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The Secret History of Keyboards (QWERTY vs DVORAK)

Ok, so we all use keyboards, right? Of course! Apparently Iโ€™m using it right now, while talking (typing) to you through this post. ๐Ÿ™‚ Likewise, you too use keyboards every now and then in your offices and homes for one purpose or the other. So, whatโ€™s the big deal then? Well, do you know all about keyboards? Yeah, you must be like โ€œWe know it consists of keys with alphabets and numbers printed over them.โ€

But, here Iโ€™m talking about the insights like the history of keyboards, their origin, and their types. Letโ€™s know these things right now. Since, we are about to discuss the history of keyboards, I would like to start with the unsung hero- the typewriter.

What is history of the typewriter?

The typewriter was invented back in the 1860โ€™s with its keys arranged like the piano keys. But, the keys were in an alphabetical order. As the technology advanced, it soon became easier to use the typewriter to type things rather than writing things out by hand.

ย Typewriter

Typewriters are sophisticated mechanical devices, but there is a catch in the functioning of these devices. What? Whenever you type using the typewriter, each typebar hits the same place on the device. As a result of which, the type bars get stuck and the device gets jammed when you type too quickly. Also, this would require typists to go and unjam the machine, which is clearly annoying.

So, in response to this, a fellow by the name โ€œChristopher Latham Sholesโ€ designed the QWERTYkeyboard layout, which is our next topic of discussion. So, just jump along with me ๐Ÿ˜‰

How did QWERTY Keyboard Originate?

The prime reason why QWERTY keyboard was invented was to minimize typewriter jamming by placing the most commonly used characters farther away from each other. This clearly led to fewer jams and thus, faster typing. Interestingly, this layout was named QWERTY because of the first 6 letters that appear on the keyboard.

The QWERTY layout rapidly gained popularity, due to which other typewriter manufacturers began using the layout in their typewriters, and eventually, the layout turned out to be so widespread that it is still the most common standard today. But, do use typewriters anymore? Nope, we donโ€™t.

QWERTY

With the introduction of personal computers and printers, typewriters have become almost obsolete in their entirety. However, the QWERTY layout, which was primarily designed for typewriters, has surely not become obsolete. Really?

Actually, there are a number of alternative keyboard layouts that have emerged over the years and most significantly the Dvorak layout that was invented in 1936. Letโ€™s delve a little deeper here.

Why was the Dvorak layout invented?

The Dvorak layout was carefully created to increase the typing speed,while minimizing unnecessary finger movements that can lead to repetitive strain injuries. On Dvorak, all the most commonly used letters are placed in the Home row with consonants on the right and vowels on the left. Dvorak certainly looks really logical. But, is it actually superior to QWERTY?

Apparently, thereโ€™s not been real and rigorous studies on QWERTY vs Dvorak that can help us decide the better one of the two. So, here even if we say that Dvorak is more logical and more efficient, there are other things that we should discuss.

Dvorak

Even if Dvorak is faster, switching to it from QWERTY is not so easy. It can take months of practice for a typist to go back to the speed that he/ she had on QWERTY and thatโ€™s not easily attainable on Dvorak. Also, numerous software and games are designed to be operated by means of QWERTY with a little or no thought given to the alternatives.

In addition, QWERTY is already so ubiquitous that itโ€™ll probably remain here forever. It may not be the most optimal, but itโ€™s good enough and itโ€™s what everyone is used to.

Which keyboard layout are you using?ย 

Comments (13)

  • Hello Zainil,
    Great information about keyboard, I were not know about the history of keyboard.
    Very amazing.
    I am using QWERTY Keyboard. I think it is very easy to use.
    I see first time other layout. I was not know about other layout before reading this post
    Any way thanks for sharing great information with us.

    Reply
  • Thanks for sharing informative article. Great info here about Keyboards. I prefer the Qwerty layout and Dvorak layout and they are both quiet easy. But i mostly prefer the Qwerty layout. Qwerty is an interesting and easy layout to use.
    Thanks for sharing valuable post with us.

    Reply
    • Thank you Vella di for appreciating ! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been using QWERTY since inception, but now looking at the starts of DVORAK, it feels that DVORAK should be faster the QWERTY ! !

      I wish I could try DVORAK once ! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Reply
  • Hello Zainil,

    This is interesting information on the keyboard. I quite remember the first time I sat in front the computer and seeing the letter Q starting brought in lots of confusion. Hahaha!

    Things have indeed evolved and the keyboard is of course of no exception.
    Thanks for this and do have a great day!
    Emmanuel recently posted…Why I Stopped Reading your Blog Posts?My Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Emmanuel ! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Seriously; as a kid, I always had this question about by the alphabets are not arranged properly on the keyboard ! ! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

      Good day Emmanuel ! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  • Hello Zainil,

    I never know about dvorak type of keyboard but now i know little bit because of you. Thanks to introduces us with the history of keyboards.

    Reply
  • Hi Zainil,

    I never know that the word and technique QWERTY is invented so many years ago. Till now I just knew that the typing thing is called QWERTY and haven’t thought it could be something related to such interesting background history. Nor I have focused on my keyboard that the word QWERTY is written in an order. How DUMB I am ! Really :p
    Aditya Antil recently posted…Rich Content and Attractive Images โ€“ Help a Website Grow VisitorsMy Profile

    Reply
  • Awesome post. I love this history. To me Qwerty is difficult to use, similar to the visual key board that we are using for internet banking. but it will be very useful for less experienced users.

    Reply
  • Hello Zainil,

    Awesome blog which contains very useful information. And how nicely you share the history of keyboard.

    Thanks for sharing such an excellent article.

    Reply

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