Does the arrangement of letters on a keyboard baffle you? Well, it’s been that way since Christopher Sholes invented the typewriter in 1868 (U.S. patent 207,559 in 1878). Though there seems to be no logical reason why our keyboards bear such a weird matrix of letters, QWERTY keyboards have quite a rich history, and the layout is something we’ve grown accustomed to.
Sholes allegedly studied common letter combinations and then arranged the keys so as to separate commonly used letter combinations to slow down typists and thus prevent his newfangled machine from jamming. There’s no documentation to support this statement, though Sholes’ attempt to slow you down does make your 85 words per minute typing skills sound a bit more impressive. Even though typewriters have evolved since the release of Remington’s Sholes & Glidden model in 1873 — and we no longer have to worry about keys jamming on our smartphones — QWERTY endures. But not without controversy.
There’s actually a school of thought against the QWERTY arrangement — the Dvorak, Colemak and Capewell keyboards arrange letters and characters for more efficiency, but after 150 years of training our brains and our fingertips for QWERTY, these ergonomically designed keyboards haven’t achieved critical mass. It’s not surprising they haven’t — could you imagine relearning to type on this keyboards? Here’s a rundown of QWERTY’s top competitors (some of which are available for implementation on your smartphone, in case you want to convert).
Though these keyboards may look wonky and could take some getting used to, the Dvorak and ilk are indeed more conducive to fast typing — we entered some text from Mashable’s “about” page and analyzed it on various keyboards. Here’s how it breaks down — it’s clear that QWERTY is the least efficient keyboard layout. We’re either gluttons for punishment or hopelessly devoted to QWERTY.