It must have stayed on top for all those years because it is the most efficient layout ever devised, right? Not really. It got on top because older designs caused the typewriters to get their hammers tangled because the most common letters were too close together…spreading them out did not make it more efficient for our fingers…it made it less likely for a hammer to get stuck. This was a great reason…when we had physical hammers hitting a paper…something that is as common now a days as a T-Rex roaming the streets.
But it’s efficient, right? Actually…what made the configuration successful was that it SLOWED down the typist…forcing them to have to move their fingers further apart for common letters…allowing for less jamming. In other words…we are using a keyboard that was invented to make things more efficient by SLOWING them down.
So why is it still with us? Haven’t we come up with better keyboards? The answer is an old one…yes, they have made better versions that are much more efficient…but they are not adopted because of the daunting challenge of replacing something that we have used for over a century. In other words…we are so used to keyboards being that way that it will be nearly impossible to change the way we type…it would be a change probably as successful as the push 30 years ago to change america to the Metric System (remember those km signs on the freeway?).
QWERTY is yet another example of the human propensity to find comfort in what we are used to. So next time you are trying to remember where to place your fingers, remember why you are doing it that way…and if you ever see a different way…give it a shot…see what it’s like…who knows…you might just like it! On that note…if you find one of those cool keyboards in the picture at WalMart or Fry’s…please let me know…it is so cool looking:)