Wednesday, April 16, 2014

QWERTY Keyboard : Why are the keys arranged in that particular order?

“Have you ever wondered why the keys on a typewriter are arranged in that particular order?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“We call it the QWERTY keyboard, because that’s the order of the letters on the first row of keys. I once wondered why it was like that, and I found the answer. The first machine was invented by Christopher Sholes, in 1873, to improve on calligraphy, but there was a problem: If a person typed very fast, the keys got stuck together and stopped the machine from working. Then Sholes designed the QWERTY keyboard, a keyboard that would oblige typists to type more slowly.

“I don’t believe it.”

“But it’s true. It so happened that Remington—which made sewing machines as well as guns at the time—used the QWERTY keyboard for its first typewriters. That meant that more people were forced to learn that particular system, and more companies started to make those keyboards, until it became the only available model. To repeat: The keyboard on typewriters and computers was designed so that people would type more slowly, not more quickly, do you understand? If you changed the letters around, you wouldn’t find anyone to buy your product.”

When she saw a keyboard for the first time, Mari had wondered why the letters weren’t in alphabetical order, but she had then promptly forgotten about it. She assumed it was simply the best layout for people to type quickly.”

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