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QWERTY – Best or Worst Keyboard Layout
  • Last Updated : 29 Apr, 2021

QWERTY layout is the first layout of any keyboard and is still most commonly used. But is also true that QWERTY design is one of the worst possible arrangements of keys a keyboard can have. It is not at all efficient for long and fast typing, the orientation of the key of the QWERTY keyboard is very unorganized and the most commonly used key is spread randomly, generating a lot of error during typing, slowing down the speed for typing letters from the top and bottom row of the keyboard.

Why Use QWERTY Keyboard?

Even after knowing the demerits and inefficiency of the QWERTY keyboard, It brings us to the question of why the world is still using the QWERTY keyword. Before the release of typewriters, there was no such trend of typing was there among people. The first typewriter was patented in 1868 by Americans Christopher Latham Sholes, this brought the era of typing and thus create a need to have a keyboard. A company Remington which was the first typewriter manufacturer in 1876, release the QWERTY layout in all of their typewriters. Remington was a huge brand at that time, and it invested a huge amount in advertising its product. Before QWERTY there was no such specific layout of the keyboard, different persons use their own layout as per their need, but due to the huge sale in Remington typewriters, the whole world was introduced to QWERTY keyboards. 

Qwerty Keyboard Layout

Figure 1: QWERTY layout

Why Qwerty Keyboard Arranged That Way?

For the first time, QWERTY layout was launched in typewriters and as typewriters have very mechanical and heavy keys, the typewriters generally get jammed while typing long articles. To reduce the jamming of keys in the typewriter the alphabets that were used very often in any article were arranged far apart from each other and that layout is only carried on in today’s smooth keyboards also.



If Not QWERTY Then?

The world record for the fastest typist is with Barbara Blackburn (maintaining 150wpm for 50 minutes and 170wpm for shorter periods, with a peak speed of 212wpm) and this record was not on the QWERTY keyboard, it’s with the DVORAK keyboard. DVORAK keyboard layout was introduced by August Dvorak and his team in 1982. His team of engineers tested 250+ keyboards and found QWERTY as the worst layout a keyboard can have. His main objective was to reduce typing errors provide ease to the users and speed up the typing rate.

Placement QWERTY frequency(%)DVORAK frequency(%)
Top Row

52

22

Home Row

32

70

Bottom Row

18

8

In the whole world, the maximum users are right-handed and as per this fact, the DVORAK keyboard located the most used constants on the right-hand side for the users and vowels to the left. The hand placement for a normal user on a keyboard is on the home row from where the person either toggles to the top or bottom row of the keyboard. It’s time taking and error-prone if the user keeps toggling between the top, home, and bottom row. Thus, in DVORAK keyboard keys are arranged in such a way, that involves only 8% of the bottom row in typing and the maximum typing that is up to 70% is done on the home row only.

DVORAK Keyboard Layout

Figure 2: DVORAK layout

Why not DVORAK?

Other than such a big Remington company DVORAK keyboard logic was introduced by a single person August Dvorak in 1932 and granted U.S. Patent (2,040,248) in 1936. The design was accepted as an alternative standard keyboard layout in 1982, till the time Remington has advertised itself on such a big scale that the whole world was using QWERTY and to bring such a big revolution of DVORAK will cost a lot of revenue and effort which was impossible for a single person. Thus, the revolution never came but also with every QWERTY layout in all systems there is a DVORAK layout also which we never use.

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