Updated 1-25-17
POS Keyboards

A programmable POS keyboard will allow you to have keys that are labeled with the POS function they perform. For example you can have a "Total" key instead of pressing [+] to complete a sale. Or you could have a "Void" key instead of pressing [F5]. If you have a small selection of merchandise you can also have individual keys enter entire stock numbers into a sale, like 158745 on one key press and label the key "Tacos."

However there seems to be some confusion about what a POS programmable keyboard will do, or not do.

The first question is, "What is a POS Programmable Keyboard?" Basically it is a keyboard where you can program the keys to send whatever code you want (within reason) to the computer when it is pressed. It will have the standard alpha-numeric keys plus additional keys that are not labeled.

Cherry programmable keyboard.

Cherry programmable keyboard.

When you press the key on a standard keyboard it will send a specific code to the computer depending on what key you pressed. For example if you press the [+] key it will send code 43 to the computer. When the computer receives a code 43 from the keyboard port it will realize that you pressed the [+] key. Pretty simple.

However, if you reprogram the [+] key to send code 65 to the computer then whenever the [+] is pressed the computer will think that you pressed [A] and will have no way to tell that you really pressed the [+] key. So what is the point of that?

A POS programmable keyboard will usually not only have the standard keys but will also have many blank keys that out of the box will not do anything. However you can program one of the blank keys with code 43 and then label the actual key to say [TOTAL]. Since my POS program uses the [+] key as the "Total" key you can now press either the [+] key or your brand-spanking new [TOTAL] key to tell the POS program to total the sale since either of them will send code 43 to the computer. Neat-o!

So does this mean that you can press your new [TOTAL] key whenever you want to total a sale? Nope. A sale can be totalled only when the POS program is looking for a code 43. This means that only at those times when pressing the [+] key will total the sale will pressing your new [TOTAL] key also total the sale. For example, if you pressed the [F3] key to enter a discount the program at that point will not be looking to see if the [+] has been pressed (it wants you to enter a discount) so pressing either your [+] key or your [TOTAL] key will do nothing. Your [TOTAL] will only work when the [+] would also work since either key will send code 43 to the computer and the computer will not have any way to tell which one you pressed.

Well what is the point then? The point is that you can have keys labeled with their function. Instead of pressing [F1] to go to the stock table you can have a key labeled [Stock Table]. Instead of pressing [F5] to void a sale you can have a key labeled [VOID]. Just remember that if pressing the function key at a particular point in the program will not cause that function to happen then pressing your new labeled keys at that time will not work either.

Multiple key codes.
On many POS programmable keyboards it is also possible to program a key to simulate many key presses. For example you could program one key to send the codes 53,56,48,51,49,50,13 to the computer. This is the same as typing 580312 [ENTER] on a regular keyboard. If you have an item with a stock number of 580312 then when you press that key it will be the same as if you typed in the stock number and pressed [ENTER], that item will be rung into a sale. You can label the key with the name of the product. Now when you want to ring up that item all you have to do is to press that one key. Cool. Of course pressing that key to ring up the item will only work if you are in the part of the program where typing in the stock number will work.

But you do not know the codes?
That is not a problem. Most POS programmable keyboards will have a "learning mode" you tell the keyboard you want to program a key, press the key you want to program, then the keys you want it to simulate, then tell the keyboard you are done. Or there may be software you use to program the POS programmable keyboard. You will have to ask the POS programmable keyboard vendor how to program his key boards.

POS programmable keyboard links
Here is a link to a POS programmable keyboard manufacturer. Please remember when selecting a keyboard that not only will you want the programmable keys but you will also absolutely need the standard keys on a normal keyboard. Make sure the keyboard you select has both.

Cherry keyboards

Here is the Cherry keyboard programming manual (.PDF)

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