Have you ever thought of the reason why the letters in a keyboard are not arranged in alphabetical order? ABCDEFG seems to make a lot more sense than QWERTY bur why did the designers opt for the latter?
If you’ve ever looked down at your keyboard and wondered why it’s not in alphabetical order, you are definitely not alone. The big question is who came up with the current design, anyway?
A few popular myths abound, but one Japanese study got to the root of it.
Myth #1: The keyboard is designed in accordance with letter usage to allow for the fastest typing possible.
While the idea behind this makes sense, designers must have looked at the varying degrees of usefulness of each letter and attempted to evenly split them between each hand. That way, we could type quickly and not have one hand doing more work than the other.
Myth #2: The design is a relic of the typewriter era, and was engineered to stop the machine from jamming.
The idea behind this is the opposite of the first, and alleges that the QWERTY design was meant to slow typists down in order to stop the typewriter from jamming.
While it’s unclear whether or not separating the useful keys makes typing a slower endeavour or a faster one, this one’s also been debunked.
The truth behind it all however is that the design is a hand-me-down from morse code transcribers.
The QWERTY system emerged as a result of how the first typewriters were being used. Early adopters and beta-testers included telegraph operators who needed to quickly transcribe messages.
However, the operators found the alphabetical arrangement to be confusing and inefficient for translating morse code. The Kyoto paper suggests that the typewriter keyboard evolved over several years as a direct result of input provided by these telegraph operators.
I this idea is actually an interesting one, but now that the QWERTY system has basically moved from morse code to smartphones, we are thinking it might be time for a new system.