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Why not alphabetical order?

From:  "gogo"

why aren't keyboards in alphabetical order?

*Lauren* Well after pondering this question a little myself, I decided to send this out into the internet world. Heres what we came up with:

forrest was the first to send us this:

the QWERTY keyboard was developed after numerous other configurations but this setup is based on the most common left/right hand alternate input based on the words in the English language.

Bunny gave us a little more information on this situation: 

in response to the question "why aren't keyboards in alphabetical order?" my computer teacher told us in fifth grade that the guy who invented the keyboard gathered information on which letters are used the most (like in wheel of fortune, when the contestants are playing for the big prize they get the letters r,s,t,l,n,e cuz they're common). when typing those letters your fingers don't have to move around the board as much. maybe this will help you find the correct and detailed response.

p.s. i hope the question was about a computer keyboard, and not a musical instrument. if that's the case...um yeah, nevermind.

platyslaw shared his views with the world: 

this is to the question about why keyboards aren't in alphabetical order. the reason is that back when typewriters were first invented, it was researched what the fastest arrangement for the keys would be. I believe this was called the dvorak keyboard. anyway, early typewriters weren't able to type very fast and so they would jam up a lot. so another arrangement had to be found, only this time it had to be the least efficient so that people would type slower, and thus cause less jams. that is how we got the 'qwerty' keyboard that we still use today.

Allan Nielsen helped out with this: 

The reason for this is the actual workings of old typewriters. The letter where mounted on mechanical arms, with up to three characters on each. Since not all letters in the alphabet is used equally often, the positioning on the letters on the arms had to be in such a way as to avoid the arms colliding. The layout of a keyboard therefore corresponds to this, and the layout is also made up for the use in the English language. In Denmark where I live we have three extra letters on the keyboard: . Hope this helps, and Im sure you can find info on this via the web.

The Doog gave us this to think about: 

Blame the typewriter. The first machines in the 19th century did go from A to Z. But this stymied good typists because the most frequently used keys were contiguous. When typists struck, say, the "a" and "b" keys in rapid succession, the spokes carrying those letters often jammed. The solution: separate these and other often-used keys. It was meant to slow people down, but hey we got used to it

David Barwick did a little research and shared this with us: 

Keyboards not being in alphabetical order is a hangover from the 1873 typewriter patented by Christopher Sholes. The original arrangement was alphabetical, but the the hammers in his machine jammed when typing fast enough to make the typewriter useful. He experimented with re-arranging the keys to separate the paths taken by the most used hammers. The current QWERTY keyboard arrangement was what resulted. A relic of the original alphabetical arrangement is the line of consonants on the middle row; DFGHJKL, missing the vowel I.

Paul on of our own SQA team members found this: 

For the bloke who wonders why the computer keyboard isn't in alphabetical order, here ya go! Obviously we know that the keyboard and the "QWERTY" design was mimicked from its predessecor, the common typewriter. Dunno, if you've used one, but if ya hit a couple of the keys next to one another, they tend to stick on the ribbon thing and have to be pried apart. This is the reason for the design. The inventors tried to separate as many letters that were commonly used together to prevent this sort of thing from happening (ie q and u, e and x, etc).

Syllk mumbled this: 

Typewriters *were* originally in alphabetic sequence. However, typists became so fast, that the hammers (or whatever they're called) would often jam together.

In an effort to slow the typists down, the letter layout of the typewriter was changed completely to the QWERTY format that we all know today, and the format has remained ever since.

C.H.U.D. once again helped out with another mystery: 

C. L. Sholes, the man who invented the first commercial typewriter, laid out the QWERTY keyboard in an effort to keep the machine from jamming. Letters that commonly appear together (like the combinations TH or ER) in the English language are seperated from each other on Sholes' keyboard because they would bang into each other when typed in rapid succession if they weren't kept apart.

steeplechase3k shared this beliefs on the idea: 

The reason that standard (called "qwerty" because of the first 6 letters on the top row) are laid out the ya they are is because, at least theoretically, the keys on the 'home row (a, s, d, f etc) are more commonly used, and keys like z and x are in the corner , and are not used as often.

However there is also a type of keyboard that is supposedly laid out better, I think it's called Dvorak or something. I think it is named in the same way as a qwerty keyboard.

Mark Wienants did a little bit of research and came up with this: 

"why aren't keyboards in alphabetical order?"
It was the work of inventor C. L. Sholes, who put together the prototypes of the first commercial typewriter in a machine shop in Milwaukee, WI, back in the 1860's.
When Sholes built his first model in 1868, the keys were arranged alphabetically in two rows.
But the typebars would jam when two letters near each other were typed in rapid succession.
Sholes was able to figure out a way around the problem simply by rearranging the letters.
Sholes' solution, the QWERTY keyboard, did not eliminate the problem completely, but it was greatly reduced.
The keyboard arrangement was considered important enough to be included on Sholes' patent granted in 1878, some years after the machine was into production. QWERTY's effect, by reducing those annoying clashes, was to speed up typing rather than slow it down.

So, In conclusion, I'm going to go with its all the damn typewriters fault for messing up the keyboard!  *Lauren*
 

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