History Behind The QWERTY Keyboard

History Behind The QWERTY Keyboard
  • History Behind The QWERTY Keyboard

Not too long ago, Business Insider released a video, dedicated to QWERTY keyboard and the reason why it is not aligned in alphabetical order.

QWERTY keyboard - named by the first six letters in the top row of keyboard, has had much deliberation around its creation and logic behind it. So what is real and what it not?

Back in 1868, early typewriters had their keys aligned exactly in alphabetical order, just like on a piano. However, because the keys that are frequently used were located next to each other, it was causing constant mechanical crashes and ultimate breakdowns.

The theory goes that Christopher Latham Sholes – one of the inventors of QWERTY keyboard, designed it in such a way to disperse frequently used keys and prevent jams’ occurrences in expensive typewriters of that time. However, it does not hold up for the simple reason that letters “e” and “r”, being next to each other, are the fourth most common letter pairing in English language. In any case, the idea behind this theory is that the keyboard, designed to eliminate mechanical breakdowns, was teaching its users how to adopt to it.

In 2011, Kyoto University researches Koichi Yasuoka and Motoko Yasuoka, in their paper offered an alternative idea, which suggested completely the opposite approach - the users were the reason why the keyboard is arranged the way we know and use today. They followed the development of keyboard alongside its professional users. According to their paper, the mechanical aspects of yearly typewriters had nothing to do with the keyboard design. On the contrary, QWERTY system was developed over several years based on the input of telegraph operators, who were translating morse code and quickly transcribing messages. For them, the alphabetical alignment was confusing and ineffective.

Whichever theory is the right one – decide for yourself.

Nevertheless, in our age of smartphones, when many try to take a new approach on creating a keyboard that would accommodate typing with thumbs, we still prefer to stick to our good old “universal” keyboard, known as QWERTY.


Source: Business Insider

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