Double Bucky

Definition of Double Bucky

Double Bucky refers to a combination of two modifier keys being pressed simultaneously on a computer keyboard. Typically, these modifier keys include Control, Alt, or Shift. When pressed together, they provide additional functionality or input options beyond the basic set of keys on a keyboard.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Double Bucky” is: /ˈdʌbəl ˈbʌki/

Key Takeaways

  1. Double Bucky is a term in the world of computer keyboards, specifically referring to pressing two modifier keys simultaneously.
  2. The name originates from two famous American computer scientists, Douglas Engelbart and Bill English, who were nicknamed “Bucky” and played important roles in the development of modern computer keyboards.
  3. In many systems, Double Bucky is often used to perform special or advanced functions, offering users a shortcut to certain tasks when both modifier keys are pressed together.

Importance of Double Bucky

The term “Double Bucky” is significant in the realm of computer technology, particularly concerning keyboard shortcuts.

It refers to the simultaneous use of two modifier keys, typically Control and Meta (or ESC), to execute a specific command or function.

This concept was popularized during the era of early computers and text-based operating systems, like UNIX or Emacs, where keyboard shortcuts played a vital role in efficient navigation and editing.

Double Bucky helped users access numerous features and commands without the need for complex sequences or multiple keystrokes, streamlining work processes and enhancing productivity.

While contemporary graphical interfaces primarily use the mouse for navigation, the legacy influence of the Double Bucky concept is still evident in modern keyboard shortcuts that involve the combination of modifier keys (e.g., Ctrl+Alt, Command+Option).


The Double Bucky concept is fundamentally designed to enhance the user’s experience and effeciency while interacting with computer keyboards. The primary purpose of introducing Double Bucky is to enable the user to access a plethora of keyboard shortcuts and functions using a limited set of physical keys. It is particularly useful for professionals and power users who need to frequently use complex shortcuts and commands that would usually need an extensive range of keys.

By facilitating the simultaneous operation of two modifier keys (the ‘Bucky’ keys), users can perform a host of diverse tasks rapidly without lifting their hands from the home row of the keyboard, thus enhancing productivity and ease of use. In a practical sense, Double Bucky keys often include the Control and Meta keys, which are specially designated keys found on many keyboards. By employing these keys in combination with other keys, users can access an array of commands and functions that would ordinarily require the use of various other keys on the keyboard.

For instance, in many text editors or programming environments, using the Control key with different letter keys can quickly cut, copy, or paste content. Meanwhile, using the Meta key with other letter keys may open new search windows, display preferences, or switch between different tabs. The concept of Double Bucky has proven invaluable in various professions and has been successfully adopted in numerous computer systems and applications, enabling users to bolster their working capabilities and better manage their time.

Examples of Double Bucky

Double Bucky is a term used for the combination of two meta keys (Control and Meta) on early keyboards, specifically the space-cadet keyboard used with MIT Lisp machines and Symbolics workstations. This term is not a separate technology but refers to the simultaneous use of both keys to trigger special functions or actions. Here are three examples involving the Double Bucky concept:

Space-cadet keyboard: The space-cadet keyboard utilized the Double Bucky concept by having a Control key and a Meta key. When pressed simultaneously with other keys, this combination would trigger specific functions in the Lisp programming environment, such as generating special characters or executing commands that would not be possible with single keypresses.

Emacs text editor: Emacs, a widely-used text editor mainly in the Unix world, often employs key combinations that include the Control and Meta keys. The concept of Double Bucky can be seen in various Emacs keyboard shortcuts, where pressing Control and Meta together with another key triggers a specific function or command within the editor.

Modern-day keyboards: While not precisely the same as Double Bucky, the concept of using multiple modifier keys together can be seen in contemporary keyboard layouts. For instance, the combination of the Control, Alt, and Shift keys on a modern-day keyboard is used for various shortcuts and functions, just like Double Bucky was in older systems.

Double Bucky FAQ

1. What is Double Bucky?

Double Bucky is a term used to describe the simultaneous pressing of both the “Control” and “Meta” keys on a keyboard. This combination is used to perform certain advanced functions and shortcuts in various applications and operating systems.

2. Where does the term “Double Bucky” come from?

The term “Double Bucky” was coined in the context of the space-cadet keyboard, which was used on early Lisp machines at MIT. The name “Bucky” is derived from “buckybit” or “bucky key,” a nod to the physicist Richard Buckminster Fuller and the additional “bit” of information his so-called geodesic domes could accommodate.

3. When should I use the Double Bucky combination?

Double Bucky is mostly used in specialized software or legacy systems where both Control and Meta keys are required to access certain functions. For most users, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the key combinations and shortcuts specific to the software you use. Keep an eye out for documentation or user manuals for guidance on when to use Double Bucky, if ever.

4. Are there any alternatives to Double Bucky?

In many cases, modern operating systems and software have replaced the need for Double Bucky with more intuitive shortcuts or graphical user interface options. If you encounter a situation where Double Bucky would be necessary, it’s worth checking if newer alternatives are available for the functions you need to perform.

5. Why is Double Bucky not as prevalent in modern computing?

Over time, the need for Double Bucky has diminished due to the evolution of computer hardware and software. Most modern keyboards don’t feature a dedicated “Meta” key, making Double Bucky less relevant. Additionally, user interfaces and operating systems have been designed with accessibility and efficiency in mind, resulting in more user-friendly alternatives to Double Bucky key combinations.

Related Technology Terms

  • Chording Keyboard
  • Modifier Keys
  • Space-cadet Keyboard
  • Key Switches
  • Multi-key Input

Sources for More Information


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