What is QWERTY?

L. S. Wynn

Modern computer keyboards include a jumbled arrangement of letters. This arrangement is often referred to as "QWERTY" (pronounced kwer-tee) since that the order of the first six letter keys on the upper-left of the keyboard.

The QWERTY keyboard is named for its top row of letters.
The QWERTY keyboard is named for its top row of letters.

QWERTY made its debut in 1872 on a device marketed as a typewriter by inventor Christopher Sholes. Some believe that the arrangement of letters was designed to slow typing speed in the effort to prevent jamming. It is generally believed, however, that the layout was designed to put common letter pairs on opposite sides of the keyboard thereby making typing easier. Alternative layouts have been presented, such as the Dvorak version, but despite claims of superiority, the QWERTY keyboard has survived. At this point, it seems that too many people have learned the layout and are not willing to relearn key locations even if improved efficiency were promised.

Though the QWERTY keyboard layout was originally developed for typewriters, it is still used in the digital age.
Though the QWERTY keyboard layout was originally developed for typewriters, it is still used in the digital age.

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An interesting note about the QWERTY layout is that all the letters of the word "TYPEWRITER" are on the top row. Some believe that Sholes wanted to make it easy for salesmen to show off his new invention, but it was probably just a coincidence.

The QWERTY keyboard was designed to prevent jamming in typewriters.
The QWERTY keyboard was designed to prevent jamming in typewriters.

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Discussion Comments

anon31417

I have a Laptop PC HP Pavilion dv9808ca and after one year I can not figure out what every single button does on my Keyboard and could not find on the net any keyboard manual, Please help I am 75 years old and I never had a PC in my life. *Thank you*

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