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Keyboard buffer

(also keyboard index buffer)

Keyboard buffer definition

A keyboard buffer is a temporary storage area in a computer's memory that holds the keystrokes you type on your keyboard until the computer is ready to process them. It ensures no keystrokes are lost, even if the computer is busy with other tasks. The buffer operates in the background and is usually very quick, making it not noticeable to the user.

See also: keylogger

How a keyboard buffer works

  • Pressing a key on the keyboard generates an electrical signal corresponding to the key you pressed. This key is sent to the computer.
  • The computer's keyboard controller interprets this electrical signal and translates it into a specific key or keycode. For example, pressing the letter “A” key generates a keycode representing the letter “A.”
  • The generated keycode is temporarily kept in a keyboard buffer. This buffer can hold multiple keypresses in the order they were entered.
  • The computer's central processing unit (CPU) periodically checks the keyboard buffer to see if any stored keypresses are waiting to be processed. The frequency of this check depends on the system's design but is generally very rapid, making the process invisible to the user.
  • When the CPU detects keystrokes in the buffer, it processes them — which makes your typed words appear on the screen or triggers actions within the computer.
  • Once processed, the keycode is removed (or “popped”) from the buffer to make space for new keystrokes. Doing so ensures that the buffer always contains the most recent keystrokes.