Saturday, February 23, 2013

Qwerty who...?

I have decided that I am not a poor speller. My problem with typos stems from the arrangement of letters on the common keyboard. Why anyone would put "f" so close to "d," such that any word that ends with a "d," often ends up ending with an "f" - are you still with me? So what should have been "I did it "- becomes "I dif it" or something like that.

Similarly putting the "p" beside the "o" creates errors, such as "sp you think ypu can type?" or worse. I did a little research on the construction of the typewriter keyboard. Wikipedia has an extensive description of the evolution process. A lot of the decisions about where to put letters depended on the early mechanics of the machine and its ability to "jam." Hence more frequently used letters were separated so their keys would not interlock.

Letter arrangements were also made to facilitate two-handed typing for speed and again to avoid jamming. I know it is all really about the mechanics, not the semantics.

Qwerty - standardized keyboard arrangement

I did enjoy the note at the beginning of the article from Wikipedia about the standardization of the keyboard across all patents. Can you imagine if every company that produced a typewriter and subsequently a computer keyboard had a different arrangement of letters?

For some reason the creators of the calculator and the telephone number pads never spoke, because as any accountant will tell you, after a day of number crunching, when you pick up the phone to dial home, you usually end up dialing a wrong number. Conversely, if you have been on the phone all day, and you have to balance petty cash at 5:00pm, it never balances the first time :)

phone keypad - notice where the #1 is
Phone keypad - notice where the numbers 1, 2 and 3 are.

Adding machine keypad - notice where the numbers 1, 2, and 3 are.

Just one way to explain our topsy turvy world. BTW if you missed the explanation of Qwerty - it's the first 6 letters of the first line of letters on the keyboard.

Have a good one!!


  1. This is where I say no comment! As I do to predictive text - it drives me mad!

  2. I often wondered why the letters occupied the place they do. I find if I'm sitting slightly to one side, my letters come out all wrong. Hehe.

  3. LOL, I was told in school the keys where placed where they were because of the usage of them. I agree with the number pads out there each of them seem different.

  4. I tend to use predictive text! It makes life easier!

  5. I well remember (oops, dating myself) manual typewriters - I learned to type on one! They were prone to jamming as each letter caused an entire "arm" to raise with the letter at the end of that. I never thought that the strange arrangements of letters on the keyboard was related to that mechanical reality. Now, if I can only learn to text with my thumbs....

  6. Most of us took Grade 10 typing and out of everything I learned in high school, it has been the most useful. I have no idea how people manage by pecking at the keyboard (like my husband!!).

  7. Holy moly this is one of the things on the list of bug bears and whilst if you are down wiv da kidz on predictive text it's fine, if you are not, like me, then arghhhh