Why the Letters On a Computer Keyboard Aren’t In Alphabetical Order

In 1874 Remington & Sons manufactured the first commercial typewriter, called the Remington Number 1. This typewriter was designed by Christopher Sholes and used the "QWERTY" keyboard we're all familiar with. The name comes from the order of the first six keys on the keyboard: Q W E R T Y. It’s design was created by Christopher Sholes and eventually sold to Remington in 1873. So, why wasn’t the keyboard arranged alphabetically? The story goes that Sholes arranged the keys with the most common letters in hard-to-reach spots to speed up typing by preventing jams. Over a period of five years, Sholes made many trial-and-error rearrangements of the original machine’s alphabetical key arrangement, but his business partner, James Denmore, successfully sold the manufacturing rights to Remington and they created the modern QWERTY keyboard layout. Since the standardization of PC-compatible computers after the 1980s, most computer keyboards have followed this standard. The only alternative to the QWERTY keyboard is the Dvorak keyboard — as seen below — which is even more confusing.



The Dvorak layout places all of the most commonly used letters in the home row so your fingers don’t have to move at all to hit these keys. The left hand has all of the vowels and some consonants and the right hand has only consonants. So, there are very few words in the English language that can be typed with only one hand on the Dvorak keyboard.