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What is a Keyboard Wedge?

A keyboard wedge is a system whereby it becomes possible to enter data into a computer in a way not anticipated by the programmer who wrote the application. It is based on the idea that all applications programs allow data to be entered via the keyboard. If the computer can be fooled into accepting 'dummy' keyboard data then that data will be processed and handled correctly by the application. Without a wedge system the user has to rely on the application itself or the operating system, neither of which may be appropriate in all cases.

Wedge systems are typically used to enter small packets of machine collected data into applications written for keyed data. This data may come from a barcode reader or similar device. The technique is powerful because...

Lee Allen of Altek Instruments in the UK first used this technique back in the days before the PC was invented when small computers meant Apple IIs, Commodore Pets and CP/M systems. Nowadays the technique is firmly established and widely used in many situations but particularly for the collection of barcode data in real time.

Current Methods

The earliest Keyboard Wedges required intervention at the operating system level. A small unauthorised patch was put into the keyboard handling code. This method worked fine but is not usually appropriate for use today.

Nowadays most Keyboard wedge systems are hardware based.

Altek Instruments currently offer the following 'Wedge' solutions:-

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