The Reason of the Layout of the QWERTY Keyboard

When I encountered the question about the reason and usage of QWERTY keyboard, I decided to check the whole history of this invention. To speak the truth, I never thought about that. I believe that the main part of people do not know all the story. This is the reason why I started writing this hub. I found some myth on the Internet about the main aim of such layout. Some people say that QWERTY keyboard was created to slow down the typists. I believe that this is not true. The QWERTY keyboard helps to type faster.

Diagonal key arragement
Diagonal key arragement | Source

The QWERTY Keyboard

The standard keyboard that is used in typing machines, computers and other devices is known as a QWERTY layout keyboard. The name comes from the first six letters on the first row. Of course there are many other layouts for different languages, but the most common layout is English QWERTY keyboard. This kind of layout was created in 1873 by C.L. Sholes. The first QWERTY keyboard was created for machine, that was called typewriter. The standard ABC keyboard was impossible to use with such a machine because letter jams were created while typing. The reason of jams was the specific construction of the first typewriter. So the QWERTY keyboard was created to enable fast and fluent typing. It took several years to create the layout that it is so common in our days. Some principles of marketing also were adapted. Did you know that it is possible to write a word “TYPEWRITER” using only the first row of letters?

The keys are oriented in diagonals. This prevented the levers of the typewriter to run into each other. The same diagonal layout is used in computer keyboards. Of course, there are no levers in today’s keyboards so there are some models which arrange the keys in vertical columns to reduce finger motion. The QWERTY keyboard is designed to help a typist to type faster. The layout helps to find letters very easily, without much additional moves. In fact, many people type faster than they write.

Properties of the QWERTY Keyboard

The keyboard is designed so well that the maximum speed of typing can be reached. The letters are in very good places. While typing a letter with one hand, the other hand gets ready for the next letter. The steady rhythm is reached and the speed can be very good with this layout. However, because of the properties of the English language, there are many words that can be typed using only a left hand, and there are only a few words that can be typed using only a right hand. This can be a little problem for right handed people at first. But this problem disappears after some time. The language structure of the other languages that uses Latin alphabet is very different, so it is very hard to say how this typical layout interacts with other languages. In my personal opinion, if the QWERTY keyboard is so common all over the world, this interaction is positive and it is very easy to use such a keyboard with almost all types of languages that uses Latin alphabet.

Computer QWERTY keyboard
Computer QWERTY keyboard | Source

Computer Keyboard

The keyboard of the typewriter was designd to fit the writers needs. There were not many additional symbols required for common writing. The first computer keyboard was created with the aim to aid programmers to input the data into the machine. The need of some functional keys appeared (esc, arrows, function keys, such as F1, F2 and etc.).

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Comments 15 comments

Silwen profile image

Silwen 5 years ago from Europe Author

Thank you for the info, simeonvisser. I fack I have never tried another layout. I always use QWERTY. As English is my second language, there are some difficulties in typing some letters that do not belong to the Latin alphabet, but in general, I am quite happy with my QWERTY.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago

@Silwen: I think it is so popular because it was the layout of the old typewriters. For the computer we simply used the same layout without giving consideration whether better layouts could be designed. That is why it is so widespread now. QWERTY is not the best keyboard layout because it was designed with physical limitations in mind that don't exist on a computer keyboard so there are opportunities to make a better layout.


Zach 5 years ago

QWERTY was designed for the fastest typing? I need another type then lol...


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

Very informative, now I understand why they focus on 'QWERTY' in a product so much.

I learned something new here today, thank you.


gangu 5 years ago

you are right that are convenient to type and for maximum speed

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Silwen profile image

Silwen 5 years ago from Europe Author

simeonvisser, thank you for sharing. I will read more about them. I believe that qwerty is so popular because of the wide international application possibilities. Am I wrong?


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago

The QWERTY layout is not the best layout for typing though, there are keyboard layouts such as Dvorak and Colemak that are better optimized for the English language.


Silwen profile image

Silwen 5 years ago from Europe Author

Thank you for you positive opinion. I found that Hubpages can be very addictive. Nice to know, that someone has the same feeling :) By the way, what kind of keyboard do you use in Poland? Is it a standard qwerty with specific letters combined on numbers?

P.S. If the information in your profile is correct, I am your neighbor. I live in Lithuania. :)


maciuras profile image

maciuras 5 years ago from Bialystok

I have the same idea:D it's big motivation for me that I can see you with the same problems and the same dreams as me:) freaky or not it's good idea:D you have very good writng style I think you can reach your goal, by the way where are you from?


Silwen profile image

Silwen 5 years ago from Europe Author

Well, I have a free account in typingweb website, but I find it very difficult to visit their program every day. But I will try. :) I know that good typing skill are very useful at work. As useful as foreign language skills are. I hope that I will be able to do all the things I started planning after entering the Hubpages. It sound freaky a little, but my main goal of earning a little spare money evolves into many big goals :) That is so crazy :D


maciuras profile image

maciuras 5 years ago from Bialystok

It's very simple to learn. You can learn it when you have good program and 24 hours for exercises. You need only 24 hours to learn this skill. 5 minutes every day and after some time you'll see differences. Very useful in work by the way:)


Silwen profile image

Silwen 5 years ago from Europe Author

Well, mys speed is not as fast as yours. I have never had enough time to concentrate on this thing. I believe that it would be very interesting to explore the world of fast writing. Thanks for the idea again ;)


maciuras profile image

maciuras 5 years ago from Bialystok

I'm writing about 350 words per minute because of qwerty layout. I'm using ten fingers. I can't visualize life without qwerty:) this layout can improve your cyber life really ;) I think it's good topic to write about. How to learn fast typing or something like that? It's my proposition for you:)


Silwen profile image

Silwen 5 years ago from Europe Author

I completely agree with you. I am not sure where that myth comes from, but it is definitely wrong.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago

Yes, the QWERTY layout was indeed designed to type faster because it reduces the likelihood of jamming metal bars. I don't understand why people keep arguing that it was designed to type slower because we humans would not design a new layout that is worse than the previous one (at least not for daily use).

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