Nugget of Knowledge: Keyboard design origin


Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – How did QWERTY end up on our keyboards?

We first used a QWERTY type of keyboard some 150 years ago. It went through several changes and later became what we use today.

Newspaper editor Christopher Latham Sholes first patented a design for a typewriter in 1867, and he arranged the keys alphabetically.

Over the next few years, he experimented with different layouts. Sometimes most of the vowels were at the top and the consonants on lower levels.

We once believed that Sholes was trying to make a convoluted layout to slow down typists. That way, they couldn’t jam the keys together with fast typing.

But this turned out to be something of an urban legend. If anything, telegraph operators wanted a typewriter that worked as quickly as possible.

Sholes sold the rights to manufacture the typewriter to Remington and Sons in 1873, and the upper row was QWE.TYIUOP.

It evolved into QWERTY, the layout that’s now widespread.

But, why this arrangement?

Telegraph operators found it the best way for translating Morse code into readable messages.

If you look at a keyboard, you can still see the remnants of Sholes’s first alphabetical layout in the middle row keys: DFGHJKL.

A new arrangement is called KALQ was designed for two thumbs.

Most of the vowels sit near the space bar, and the right thumb handled them, while the left thumb takes care of most of the consonants and most of the first letters of words.

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