Why Are The Key In Keyboards Not In Alphabetical Order

Why Are The Key In Keyboards Not In Alphabetical Order?

Why Keyboard Not In Alphabetical Order? Typewriters, computers, cell phones, tablets… in all cases the classic QWERTY keyboard model is followed. Since I can remember, I have wondered why the keyboards are not in alphabetical order, when, for example, the numbers are ordered.

Why Are Keyboards not In Alphabetical Order?

The First Keyboards

The first keyboards were those of typewriters in the 19th century and, indeed, their keys were arranged alphabetically.

However, this made the task of fast typing difficult, as typewriters at the time had a metal bar with the mirror image of a letter or character, which hit the paper at the time of writing. When typing very fast, the bars became tangled and smudges were generated on the paper.

It was for this reason that the keys were randomly placed, forming the well-known QWERTY keyboard, now standardized. Although the order of the letters was done with a lot of study and testing by its inventor, Sholes, with this keyboard one hand is allowed to go to the desired position while the other is pressing a key.

QWERTY Keyboard Layout

The QWERTY keyboard is designed for the English language. To design the QWERTY keyboard, Scholes made a list of all the most common English letter combinations.

In this way, the layout of its keys allowed to wait as little time as possible between letter and letter when typing, putting them far enough apart on the keyboard so that their bars did not get tangled. On the other hand, others thought that it had been done in order for typographers to write more slowly because they did not know the layout of the keys, and thus allow the bars not to catch.

In addition, the first row was made so that all the letters of the word “typewriter”, which means typewriter in English, could be quickly written.

There are thousands of English words that can be written with just one hand, mainly favoring the right-handed, since more words can be formed with the keys on the left side of the keyboard, leaving the right hand free to use the mouse.

Why Did The QWERTY Keyboard Continue To Be Maintained On Computers?

When computers became popular, there was no longer a problem with bars on keyboards, so it was thought to return to the alphabetical order. However, those who used the computer at the time were the same ones who wrote a couple of years before on typewriters, and who were already used to the QWERTY layout.

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Although the layout of the letters on the keyboard is not as important today as it could be before, since today’s keyboards are not mechanical like those of typewriters, it is always interesting to know a little more about curious facts.

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Jaqueline, Stanford-educated author, bridges science, history, and DIY with insightful 'how-to' literature. A former teacher and product designer, she transforms complex topics into engaging, accessible content, promoting creativity, lifelong learning, and enlightened discussions on various social issues.