04.12.2018
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QWERTY – familiar and mysterious

Where the popular keyboard layout came from, and why it doesn’t yield to competitors

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The name of this keyboard layout came from the first six letters of the top row. QWERTY-keyboard originates in the era of typewriters.

The creation history of the familiar layout is not clear enough
The creation history of the familiar layout is not clear enough

Christopher Sholes, an elaborator of the first typewriters, determined to distribute keys in the simple alphabetical order. However, with an increase of the typematic speed professionals began to encounter a number of problems. For instance, the levers of the letters situated close to each other scraped and sticked with the rapid pushing. By trial and error and constant layout modernization the legendary typewriter «Remington 1» was finally launched. Its keyboard became the prototype of all contemporary ones. The blind method of the typemate, which became popular after typing competitions, helped in promotion of this keyboard layout. Edgar McGurrin, the court secretary, won over another contestant. When the winner was asked about the reasons of his triumph, he said he had typed with ten fingers without looking at the keyboard. His rival typed with only eight fingers staring at the keys, and this method considerably decreased typematic speed. Nowadays, one and a half century later, there are some courses where you can learn the blind way of working on the keyboard.

Why we love QWERTY so much when we are able to switch to other layouts?

Nevertheless, today there are disputes about effectiveness of QWERTY-layout. There were some attempts to supplant familiar layout on more ergonomic one. In 1936 university professor August Dvorak noticed a great number of typos in the work of one of his students. At that time the thought had come to his mind – to invent an absolutely new type of latin keyboard based on more convenient position of vowel and consonant letters. After it in the beginning of the XXI century DVORAK-layout was elaborated by Shay Coleman and obtain the name Colemak. As some studies claimed, these layout types enable to work 2-3 times faster. However, QWERTY doesn’t give in to more contemporary rivals, although every user can switch between layouts with the help of several mouse clicks.

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