Why do we use QWERTY?

When you look at the keys of your keyboard, do you ever wonder how someone could come up with such a random array of letters? The QWERTY keyboard dates back to the end of the 19th Century when typewriters were revolutionized, yet still today their arrangement is used universally, on keyboards, phones, tablets the lot. One might think that there must be easier or more conventional arrangements of letters for people to learn to type. Why isn’t the keyboard alphabetical? Children learn the alphabet rigorously and yet when faced with typing have to learn again the order of the letters, perhaps this explains why so many of are slow, single finger typists. The question is why do we use such an inefficient and sporadic style of keyboard, surely from 1873 when this style was adopted we would have developed a more efficient universal keyboard.

typwriter

Early Typewriter

The answer lies in the revolution of the typewriter. After its creation in the 1860´s it became an instrumental tool in the formation of documents, books, articles and newspapers alike. As people started to adapt to typewriting and became faster at typing, it was swiftly revealed that and alphabetical style of typewriter was mechanically unfeasible. The problem lay in the mechanics of early typewriters; when people began typing fast the mechanical rods used to print letters would clash and jam up. This is due to the fact that some letters are used more frequently than others and are often closer together. The American Christopher Sholes decided to revolutionize the keyboard and spread out the most commonly used letters to slow typist down and thus avoid mechanical problems. Hence QWERTY was created.

Almost a century and a half later however; Sholes’ invention is still going strong; but it has been proved many times that there are more efficient arrangements for the keyboard. Why not use an alphabetical keyboard? Nowadays, mechanics isn’t an issue, the technology era means cogs and rods no longer exist, should we not look for a simpler pattern that enables those who learn alphabets at a young age to start typing with more ease.dvorak

Dr August Dvorak created his rendition of the keyboard in 1936 which he proved and demonstrated was easier and more efficient. I mean, the QWERTY keyboard was designed specifically to slow down typist, so why didn’t Dvorak’s keyboard take over? It’s because we created the QWERTY first and once we got used to it, a new system seemed pointless to change. Isn’t it ironic that in a diachronic, forward moving society we still accept such an ancient system attached to our modern devices? It’s a fairly backwards way of thinking that once we have something we like, no improvements will succeed. Imagine trying to suddenly change the billions of people who type and reprogram their way of thinking. I guess some historical inventions, however inefficient and slow, are impossible to move away from.

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