The Day I Was Born
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Online Project - Discovering YOUR Place in History Since 1999
Week 36 - Power Point - Qwerty & DVORAK keyboardsQwerty
The first six letters on most keyboards spell "Qwerty", therefore this is known as a "Qwerty Keyboard". Another little known fact on
the subject--there is another more efficient keyboard layout called Dvorak (named for the person who invented it) but which was
never widely used for reasons stated below.
Why are the letters on QWERTY keyboards NOT in alphabetical order?
It would seem to make sense to place the letters in alphabetical order so they would be easier to find. It is commonly believed that
the keys are placed so that the most commonly used letters are the "home keys" with other often used letters close to these. This is
NOT the case, according to the Mavis Beacon website
Christopher Latham Sholes was the fifty-second person to attempt to construct a typing device. His nightly tinkering with a duo of
inventor friends, Carlos Glidden and S. W. Soule, led to the creation in 1872 of a machine they called the Type-Writer. This device
was a workable, if somewhat bizarre-looking rendition of what we think of as a typewriting machine. It's interesting, though, that the
first machine finally put into production was one designed to slow the typist.
Sholes developed his machine for convenience, but he faced a tremendous problem: the keys jammed if they were hit too closely in
succession. The primitive manufacture simply didn't allow each key hit to return to its mooring in time to make way for the next key.
Nothing Sholes or his friends did could eliminate the problem. Finally, in desperation, Sholes took a step that had a profound effect
on you as a typist. Because he couldn't redesign the machine to work faster, Sholes redesigned the keyboard to force the typist to
type more slowly. He perfected what is known as the "QWERTY" keyboard (after the first six letters of the typewriter's second row).
After much experimentation, Sholes produced an arrangement of keys so inconvenient, so annoying and troublesome, that it could
slow even an expert typist. In fact, the solution to Sholes's problem continues to hinder us even now. This keyboard, with a few
minor changes, is used almost universally by English-typing people today.
A confirmed efficiency expert, August Dvorak turned his attention to typing and the awkward QWERTY keyboard. He examined the
English language with the express purpose of putting letters next to each other on the keyboard that were also frequently found next
to each other in words. His keyboard, not surprisingly called the Dvorak keyboard, increased accuracy in typing by almost 50
percent and speed by 15 percent to 20 percent.
Despite these impressive figures, America's Depression and some ill-timed sales ventures contributed to the almost immediate
demise of the Dvorak keyboard. These events, coupled with the familiarity people felt with the QWERTY keyboard, simply stopped
Dvorak in his tracks. It wasn't until many years later that this system of key placement was reintroduced with some amount of
Dvorak's work did not result in the popularization of a new keyboard, but it did redouble the emphasis on accuracy in typewriting.
However, accuracy was no longer to be attained merely by copying typing drills from a textbook. Detailed studies of typewriting
motion and efficiency produced by Dvorak and others resulted in real progress in typing instruction.
People were stuck on the QWERTY keyboard and wanted rules to help them get the most from it. New texts focused on properly
placed letters and word construction. Instead of concentrating on speed alone, typing teachers began to try to understand how their
students learned. Kinesthetics (that is, a concern for the "feel" of the typewriter keys and how to reach the keys and return to the
typewriter's second or "home" row effectively), were introduced as a means of increasing both speed and accuracy.