How did the qwerty keyboard become so popular?

Typing at 60 words per minute (wpm) – no stretch for a good typist – means five or six letters striking the same spot each second. At such a speed, the typist might need to be slowed down for the sake of the typewriter. That is what qwerty supposedly did.

Then again, if qwerty really was designed to be slow, how come the most popular pair of letters in English, T-H, are adjacent and right under the index fingers? The plot thickens.

The father of the qwerty keyboard was Christopher Latham Sholes, a printer from Wisconsin who sold his first typewriter in 1868 to Porter’s Telegraph College, Chicago. That bit’s important… More here.

This subject has been debated many many times and so it continues.

Categories: Articles

2 replies

  1. If you type enough, regardless of whether you’re touch typing or finger pecking, eventually muscle memory takes over. And it does so regardless of which type of keyboard you use, as long as you use it long enough and consistently.

    I use maybe 3 or 4 fingers and my left thumb to hit the space bar. I’m no touch typist but can maintain a reasonable speed with reasonable accuracy. Yes I look at the keyboard but most of the time I don’t have to think about where a particular letter is. My fingers just “know”.

    And at this point, the next generation is learning to type using the QWERTY layout. So it doesn’t really matter whether it’s the most efficient or not, it has become “the way things are.”

    Besides, without the QWERTY layout, WASD wouldn’t be conveniently together to use as up-left-down-right movements in RPGs. And that’s certainly putting the cart before the horse.

  2. Yeah, it seems like the difference for non-world-pro typists is minimal, and certainly overwhelmed by the “fax machine effect” of not being able to be fluent on your buddy’s computer, and having to relearn what you either dutifully practiced or just picked up over time.

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