The Quirky Qwerty Keyboard
The keyboard most of us use for typing is inefficient and awkward, not to
mention confusing - and we've known this since 1872 when it was first marketed
to the public as the "Type-Writer."
It's called the QWERTY Keyboard because the letters of the first
alphabetical row appear in the order Q, W, E, R, T and Y. Also called the
"universal" keyboard, it was the brainchild of inventor Christopher Latham
Sholes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
built the first type-writer in 1868, arranging the keys in alphabetical order in
two rows. Each letter was located at the end of a movable arm, or type bar. The
machine had a movable carriage and a lever for turning paper from line to line.
Unfortunately, the great machining town of Milwaukee wasn't as sophisticated
then as it is now, and shops could not produce a fine-tuned instrument that
worked with precision and speed. It jammed. It clashed. It was no fun to use.
The most popular letters would clash into each other. It was most challenging
when a user typed fast, when keys stuck, jammed and caused untold frustration.
Sholes was determined to mechanize his unique communication tool. He believed
the solution would be to slow the typist down. But, to maintain efficiency,
popular letters typically typed in sequence (such as TH) could not be far apart
from each other. So, he asked his brother-in-law to rearrange the keys so the
letters used most often would not be side-by-side and the type bars would come
from opposite directions. Results of a study by educator Amos Densmore, who was
the brother of Sholes's chief financial backer, indicated which letters should
be placed where. The newly arranged keyboard took on the Qwerty name because of
the sequence of the first alphabetical letters. In the end, typing efficiency
and speed were enhanced, not slowed, by the revisions.
Arms manufacturer Remington built the first mass-produced Type-writer,
which was introduced to the public in 1874. Sholes's Qwerty keyboard was
included in his patent in 1878, after the type-writer was into production and
its second model had been introduced.
Other versions of the typing keyboard have come and gone, but, like an old
friend, the Qwerty continues.
More information about the history of keyboards:
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Copyright Wordpix Solutions and author Peggi Ridgway,