Why does Windows think that my wireless keyboard is a toaster?

2 042


I've inherited an old PC from my girlfriend's dad and when setting up the printer I got a bit of a surprise:

Toaster keyboard

Two questions spring to mind here:

  1. Why does Windows think my wireless keyboard is a toaster?
  2. Why does Windows even have an icon for a toaster in the devices menu?


Posted 2014-08-05T09:36:30.107

Reputation: 10 664

227Can you please add the model name of the keyboard? – A.L – 2014-08-05T14:43:30.113


@A.L google suggests that an there may be several keyboard-toaster models

– Kevin L – 2014-08-05T19:21:21.327


@AE At 5V 500mA? You will run into power requirements there. Unless you cheat on your definition of a toaster.

– None – 2015-03-11T08:04:23.643

2@ydaetskcoR you may need to update your drivers or find in the keyboard company website. – Roger Oliveira – 2015-06-04T10:43:00.777


Maybe it runs NetBSD?

– mirabilos – 2016-04-05T10:34:45.557

5The icon says says Fabrikam on the toaster.Fabrikam is a company by Microsoft which they use in samples – Suici Doga – 2016-05-08T07:38:15.613

@Moab I think it's a default icon and reason could be simple since wireless keyboard OR toaster both generate output if input is provided :-) LikeToasted Bread incase of toaster and letters or characters incase of keyboard. – Ashraf.Shk786 – 2017-02-20T13:06:35.103


2 010

Reason 1

Because Microsoft made a toaster driver sample. In the sample there is the line <DeviceIconFile>Toaster.ico</DeviceIconFile> and there is a chance that your keyboard manufacturer took that sample.

Reason 2

Look at the back of the keyboard for some place to insert a slice of bread…

Kenneth L

Posted 2014-08-05T09:36:30.107

Reputation: 12 537

236Now that you mention it there is a bread slot! So I'm guessing they've just copy-pasted the XML and forgot to change the icon? Still pretty bizarre. – ydaetskcoR – 2014-08-05T10:21:33.253


@ydaetskcoR As you can see from the icon, the toaster brand is indeed Fabrikam (i.e. a fictional company).

– and31415 – 2014-08-05T11:20:12.660

68The keyboard driver developer was probably using this toaster example as a template and forgot to replace the icon. – Ido.Co – 2014-08-05T13:55:04.703

46yd: Not XML, but the .INF file. (We wish they'd go to XML for INF files...) There was a case where a company got a copy of PCI System Architecture by Mindshare, which is an essential book if you're building PCI devices, and copied the manufacturer ID and product ID from the examples in the book, for their own PCI device. Makes you want to slap someone. – Jamie Hanrahan – 2014-08-05T20:54:09.307


Here is the sample INF file. Linked in a post linked in by Kevin L in the comments.

– totymedli – 2014-08-06T09:44:36.520


At my company, I inherited an Outlook plugin, and discovered that all the internals are named "Search Bing". http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/ee941475(v=office.14).aspx

– Mooing Duck – 2014-08-08T16:43:22.173

5Could it just be the default icon when none is supplied by the OEM? That's what I always assumed when I saw it. Otherwise a plethora of my peripheral manufacturers are horribly lazy... which I suppose isn't too hard to believe now that I think about it. – thanby – 2014-08-08T19:44:22.877


Re: Reason 2, if you have Single-Slice USB Powered Toasting Computer Accessory or similar, please check on the top.

– kenorb – 2014-08-11T13:10:40.870

12I expect they chose a toaster icon for the sample, in part, because they expected device manufacturer's pride would outweigh their laziness. – thelr – 2014-08-13T18:22:41.930


As for "why specifically a toaster", "Toaster" is an old catch-all name for "any arbitrary device." For example, you can find "SCSI toaster" alongside "SCSI disk", "SCSI tape", and even "SCSI scanner" (yes, scanners used to be on SCSI) in some very old Microsoft slides depicting the storage stack.

Jamie Hanrahan

Posted 2014-08-05T09:36:30.107

Reputation: 19 777

75Do you have a reference for this? – slhck – 2014-08-08T21:20:14.307

9I might still have the handout from the '92 NT DDC. (If I do, it is not physically nearby ATM.) And I may be misremembering the actual point of origin. But if you're that skeptical, I have to say that I have nothing that would be considered proof (as opposed to possible image manipulation). – Jamie Hanrahan – 2014-08-08T21:27:54.570


Are you sure you're not thinking of the Bus Toaster? "New Media's Bus Toaster is a high performance SCSI adapter that lets you connect most CD-ROMs, hard drives, scanners, and more. The Bus Toaster supports up to 7 logical devices and data transfers of over 10 megabytes per second." :)

– Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 – 2014-08-09T17:43:45.863

2Yes, I'm sure. What you're describing is a SCSI HBA. – Jamie Hanrahan – 2014-08-10T05:24:32.490


Here are the oldest toaster related slides I was able to find (February 28, 2000): Toaster Sample Package And here's a MSDN article which talks about a toaster device: Configuration of Non-Plug and Play Serial Device Connected to an RS-232 Port

– and31415 – 2014-08-11T15:25:46.350


I've also seen somewhat similar usage of the word 'toaster.' See the 'toaster' entry here: http://jargon-file.org/archive/jargon-2.9.12.dos.txt or http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/T/toaster.html

– pcnThird – 2014-08-13T01:21:54.430

@and31415: Because of that sample, there are probably at least a hundred products' drivers out there that copied various parts of the sample... including the "toaster device" description. :D – Jamie Hanrahan – 2017-12-15T22:09:46.487


Windows recognizes device type by what the device says it is which in the majority of cases can be overwritten...

If you have plugged in an actual thumb drive (confirmed by observation) it could be because there is malware/virus on that device.

This is a technique used by impostor software to for example show up as a keyboard so windows will trust it automatically yet act as a key-logger...

Never had experience with a 'smart' toaster so it depends, did windows trust it (install and allow its usage) without any consent?

Note: this scenario is unlikely, but note it ;)


Posted 2014-08-05T09:36:30.107

Reputation: 389

30We just don't think this has anything to do with the question. The question isn't about a thumb drive, it is about a keyboard. Do you think that someone hacked into his wireless keyboard and reprogrammed its device type to "toaster"? Why would they do this for a keyboard? (Also, there has only been one downvote.) – Cody Gray – 2014-08-16T10:48:56.833

30If they've written a virus that pretends to be a keyboard you'd think they would go to the effort of putting in a keyboard icon, instead of using the default 'toaster' icon in order to blend in better. – Robotnik – 2014-08-19T01:50:09.950

@Robotnik I usually plug in keyboards to my PC, not toasters; so yes. Although admittedly this is out of context. – BAR – 2014-08-23T00:08:01.850

1@CodyGray it is possible that a would-be malware programmer made the same kind of mistake taking a driver example from the net. – BAR – 2014-08-23T00:09:46.007

4The question is about a wireless keyboard. Where does malware come into play? Someone installed malware on his keyboard? – Cody Gray – 2014-08-23T07:10:33.593

@CodyGray IMO that would be an good way to do it, although it would require modifications to store memory. Have a little imagination ;) – BAR – 2014-08-26T01:50:49.763

Wireless Keylogger Masquerades as USB Phone Charger http://it.slashdot.org/story/15/01/13/183226/wireless-keylogger-masquerades-as-usb-phone-charger

– BAR – 2015-01-13T21:12:40.443


@CodyGray Not to be a stick-in-the-mud, but keyboards can be, and have been, programmed with malware. Take an old exploit for Apple keyboards for example. If Apple can fail, I imagine other device manufacturers can as well. Not that I agree with this answer, I just thought I would add my two cents :)

– Chris Cirefice – 2015-04-29T17:07:03.373

@CodyGray, You are underestimating malware. Real target keyboard firmware. – Pacerier – 2015-05-20T09:21:59.747