Why ‪QWERTY Keypad Why not ABCDEF Format???? Read it

11 Aug 2015    04:31 pm

Why ‪QWERTY Keypad Why not ABCDEF Format????

Why is the keyboard layout Q-W-E-R-T-Y and not simply A-B-C-D-F? Why were computer keyboards designed in the current format not in a alphabetical order. Is there any specific reason or it's just some random convention we are following?

  • It hasn’t been done randomly or just for fun, it has a very distinct and purposeful reason behind it.
  • The current format of the keyboard was devised long back in 1870’s by a gentleman named Christopher Sholes for the then typewriter.
  • Though, it definitely was not the first format to come up, it didn’t take much time to switch to this one.
  • Starting with lexicographic order i.e. A-B-C-D-E-F, after various trials and errors and taking hundreds of cases, Christopher Sholes gradually reached the Q-W-E-R-T-Y. It was really well received (evident from the fact that we still use it).
  • When the typewriter was invented, it used a metal bar to hold the character alphabets and the other end of the bar was attached to a linkage carrying a carriage with the coated ink.

  • When a key was struck, it would emboss its character on the paper placed beneath the carriage. However, when an operator learned to type at a great speed, a certain flaw was noticed.
  • When two letters were struck in quick succession, the bars of the typewriter would entangle and get jammed.
  • Christopher Sholes found a way out. He proposed that the letters of frequently used letter pairs should be in different rows. 
  • For example, ‘C-H’, ‘S-T’, ’T-H’, ‘W-H’ and more.
  • He also formulated that to speed up the typing process, there has to be a regular alternation between two hands. So observing thousands of words, he placed the letters in way that most words would make use of both hands.
  • He also observed that almost every word in the dictionary carries a vowel.
  • According to him, the most frequently used vowel was ‘A’ and the most frequently used letter (non-vowel) was ‘S’. So he placed ‘A’ and ‘S’ together and chose to keep less common letters like ‘Q’, ‘W’, ‘Z’, ‘X’, ‘C’ around these.
  • This was complemented by placing fairly common letters like ‘M’, ‘N’, ‘L’, ‘K’, ‘O’, ‘P’ at right extremes to create a perfect alternation between both the hands.
  • All these factors tested with thousands of trials gave us the format that we still use and perhaps would be using till eternity.