The QWERTY keyboard can be claimed as the most used modern keyboard system. It was designed and developed by Christopher Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter, in 1874. The keyboard got its name from the first six letters of the alphabetical line on the keyboard. In this blog, we will be talking about QWERTY Keyboard and it’s evolution.
QWERTY Keyboard becomes the standard
So, the truth about the history of why the QWERTY keyboard came to be is a little uncertain. In any case, by the time 1873 rolled around, the typewriter featured 43 keys, all (rather counterintuitively) designed in such a way that would minimize the occurrence of breakdown — important, as typewriters were still quite expensive at the time.
Also in 1873, Sholes and his colleagues entered into a deal with Remington, the well-known gun-maker. Right before the first machine developed with Remington went into production, Sholes filed another patent — this time, for the familiar QWERTY keyboard we all know. Both the deal with Remington and the keyboard layout proved to be a huge success. In 1893, the top typewriter manufacturers merged to form the Union Typewriter Company and agreed to feature the QWERTY keyboard as the standard design from that point forward.
In a 2011 paper, the researchers tracked the evolution of the typewriter keyboard alongside a record of its early professional users. They conclude that the mechanics of the typewriter did not influence the keyboard design. Rather, the QWERTY system emerged as a result of how the first typewriters were being used.
Either way, Sholes himself didn’t seem convinced that the QWERTY keyboard was the be-all, end-all, in the end. He continued his tinkering and continued to invent improvements and alternatives to the typewriter for the remainder of his days, including a number of designs he deemed as more efficient than QWERTY.
Keyboard Alternatives & the Computer Age
Outside of Sholes competing against his own design, there have been others who have tried to create alternative layouts for the keyboard, one of the most famous of which is the Dvorak simplified keyboard, developed in the 1930s by Dr August Dvorak. However, even as early as the 1930s, it was already too late to overthrow QWERTY.
Advantages of QWERTY keyboard:
Computers with QWERTY keyboards are found on most modern desktops and laptops used in across the world, so once you’ve mastered this style, you can use it on any keyboard you run across and also learn how to use it better with practice.
Many mobile phones rely on a modified QWERTY keyboard, which pops up when you’re trying to send a message or post an update to social media. These are familiar waters for those who have learned how to type on a typewriter or desktop, but not all functions are available.
Most users seem comfortable with the QWERTY keyboard rather than wanting to learn something new. If users can get their tasks done – and sometimes very well in the case of typists with a high word per minute rankings on a system that’s said to be inefficient – there’s less motivation to switch to an entirely new and unfamiliar system. You may point out the fact that now that computers exist, why do we stick with the QWERTY keyboard? Even if the reasoning behind the creation of the design (to prevent typewriters from jamming) has been debunked, computers can’t jam up in any similar fashion, so why keep the layout? Well, simply because the first generation of people to use both a typewriter and a computer learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard. It’s ubiquitous and is now the technological standard.
However, a new generation of Sholes has continued to tinker with the already-efficient design, see if they can’t improve upon the entrenched giant. Here enters the KALQ keyboard. What makes this design so interesting is that it’s designed with mobile usage in mind — the whole layout is built around the modern practice of typing with our thumbs. However, it can be argued that no matter how the letters are arranged, any design will likely still feature letters and numbers, laid out in a grid pattern: a design originally created by Sholes and colleagues. But we never know what the future holds. What we do know is that QWERTY keyword has served us for quite a time now and there is so much to gain!