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The QWERTY Keyboard History

May 19, 2016

The first 6 letters on a standard keyboard are, Q-W-E-R-T-Y. This is where the term, “QWERTY” derived and is now a short-hand term for the most popular international keyboard.



Early mechanical typewriters had a horrible history of the metal arms getting jammed while typists attempted to type in a fast manner. This caused a lot of frustration as well as many costly and time consuming mistakes.


Christopher Latham Sholes designed the QWERTY keyboard in the 1870’s. Mr. Sholes designed this particular keyboard just a few years after the first mechanical typewriters were produced. There were many versions of this keyboard before the finished product was ready for distribution. Eventually he found a way to arrange the letters in such a way in order to eliminate the possibility of tangling the metal mechanical arms. Unfortunately, this particular layout of letters had no rhyme or reason to their order.


E, T, A, O, I, N, S, H, R and D are the ten most often typed letters in the English language. Early QWERTY typists had many difficult hours re-learning how to type. Most of these frequently used letters require the typist to reach up or down from the home keys to be able to use these letters. There are also many of these letters that require the use of the left hand. As most people are right-handed, this posed a problem for typists learning to use their weaker hand more often to reach these keys.


A lot of medical transcribers use QWERTY keyboards to dictate physician’s notes into legible files on their patients. This is often called medical typing or medical dictation.


It doesn’t appear that the QWERTY keyboard is going anywhere anytime soon. This is probably just as well as it would cause quite a bit of confusion at this point if someone were to re-arrange the keys now.

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