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D. Levy

David Levy

The World's Smallest Keyboard

David Levy of Manhattan Beach, California, recently completed his doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, has been inventing since the age of 9. His inventions range from mechanical to medical; but perhaps the most notable is his OneTouch™ keyboard — the world's smallest "full-size" keyboard.

Levy, who worked for five years in product development at Apple Computer, took the trend toward computer miniaturization to its logical end. He designed and built a fully functional keyboard, which is half the size of a credit card, with the entire alphabet, ten digits, and thirty-one additional standard size keys.

Levy managed this seeming paradox by using keys in combination: numbers, for example, are printed in between keys, and entered by pressing the respective four neighboring keys at once; other items are entered by pressing the contiguous corners of four keys at once. By always using four keys at a time, even men with large hands can use their thumbs to operate the tiny device. Levy's micro-keypad will surely find use in cellular phones, hand-held computers, two-way pagers, and a host of other miniaturized products.

Overall, Levy has earned eight patents and has 18 pending. He founded a corporation, TH, Inc. ("Think")---without any outside venture capital---to market and license his inventions. His first patented product was "Peelables"®: peel-off labels in layers for items (videocassettes, for example) whose contents change over time. His patent for a theft-proof bicycle seat has been licensed to Kryptonite Corporation. Levy's most recent invention is a method of communicating with computers using simple finger gestures.

For his inventiveness and entrepreneurship, David Levy was awarded the $30,000 1996 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. He has used the award to continue his work, and to inspire others to realize that inventing can bring great personal and financial returns.

[Feb. 1996]

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