The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (or ) is a keyboard layout patented in 1936 by Dr. August Dvorak, an educational psychologist and professor of education at the University of Washington in Seattle, and William Dealey as an alternative to the more common QWERTY layout. It has also been called the Simplified Keyboard or American Simplified Keyboard but is commonly known as the Dvorak keyboard or Dvorak layout.
Although the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard ("DSK") has failed to displace the QWERTY as de facto, it has become easier to access in the computer age, being included with all major operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and BSD) in addition to the standard QWERTY layout. It is also supported at the hardware level by some high-end ergonomic keyboards.
The Dvorak layout was intended for the English language. In other European languages, letter frequencies, letter sequences, and digraphs differ from English. Also, some languages have letters that do not occur in English. For non-English use, these differences lessen the advantages of the original Dvorak keyboard. However, the Dvorak principles have been applied to the design of keyboards for these other languages.
The layout was completed in 1932 and was granted in 1936. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designated the Dvorak keyboard as an alternate standard keyboard layout in 1982; the standard is X3.207:1991 (previously X4.22-1983), "Alternate Keyboard Arrangement for Alphanumeric Machines". The original ANSI Dvorak layout was available as a factory-supplied option on the original IBM Selectric typewriter.
In 1984, the Dvorak layout had an estimated 100,000 users.
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Modern U.S. keyboard layouts almost always place semicolon and colon together on a single key and slash and question mark together on a single key. Thus, if the keycaps of a modern keyboard are rearranged so that the unshifted symbol characters match the classic Dvorak layout then, sensibly, the result is the ANSI layout.
However, IBM-compatible PCs used an active, "smart" keyboard, where the keyboard was actually a peripheral device (powered by the keyboard port). Striking a key generated a key "code", which was sent to the computer. Thus, changing to an alternative keyboard layout was most easily accomplished by simply buying a keyboard with the new layout. Because the key codes were generated by the keyboard itself, all software would respond accordingly. In the mid- to late-1980s, a small cottage industry for replacement PC keyboards arose; although most of these were concerned with keyboard "feel" and/or programmable macros, there were several with alternate layouts such as Dvorak.
Earlier versions, such as DOS 6.2/Windows 3.1, included four keyboard layouts: QWERTY, two-handed Dvorak, right-hand Dvorak, and left-hand Dvorak.
All known DOS/Windows implementations prior to Windows XP required restarting the machine or application after installing a new keyboard layout.
UNIX Shell scripts are available for switching keymaps without restarting.
Apple had Dvorak advocates since the company’s early (pre-IPO) days. Several engineers devised hardware and software to remap the keyboard, which were used inside the company and even sold commercially.
Apple brought new interest to the Dvorak layout with the Apple IIc, which had a mechanical switch above the keyboard whereby the user could switch back and forth between the QWERTY layout and the ANSI Dvorak layout: this was the most official version of the IIe Dvorak mod. Late-model Apple II computers added a switch inside the computer for switching to Dvorak, and the Dvorak layout was also selectable using the built-in control panel applet on the Apple IIGS.
In its early days, the Macintosh could be converted to the Dvorak layout by making changes to the "System" file: this was not easily reversible and required restarting the machine. This modification was highly unofficial, but it was comparable to many other user-modifications and customizations that Mac users made. Using the "resource editor", ResEdit, users could create keyboard layouts, icons, and other useful items. Many wonders appeared at user-group meetings. A few years later, a third-party developer offered a utility program called MacKeymeleon, which put a menu on the menu bar that allowed on-the-fly switching of keyboard layouts. Eventually, Apple Macintosh engineers built the functionality of this utility into the standard System Software, along with a few layouts:QWERTY, Dvorak, French (AZERTY), and other foreign-language layouts.
Since about 1998, beginning with Mac OS 8.6, Apple has included the Dvorak layout. Apple also includes a Dvorak variant they call “Dvorak — Qwerty Command”. With this layout, the keyboard becomes QWERTY when the Command (Apple) key is held down. This makes transition for some people easier. Mac OS and subsequently Mac OS X allows "on-the-fly" switching between layouts: a menu-bar icon (by default, a national flag that matches the current language, a `DV' represents Dvorak and a `DQ' represents Dvorak — Qwerty Command) brings up a popup menu, allowing the user to choose the desired layout. Subsequent keystrokes will reflect the choice, which can be reversed the same way.
Although the Dvorak layout is the only other keyboard layout registered with ANSI and is provided with all major operating systems, attempts to convert universally to the Dvorak layout have not succeeded. The failure of the Dvorak layout to displace the QWERTY layout has been the subject of some studies and of considerable debate.
In 1956, a General Services Administration study by Earle Strong, which included an experiment involving ten experienced government typists, concluded that Dvorak training would never be able to amortize its costs. The study was a large obstacle for the wide adoption of Dvorak for many firms and government agencies. One criticism of the experiment is that it did not involve any beginning typists; however, Liebowitz notes that it parallels the decision that a real firm or government agency would need to make: Is it worthwhile to retrain its present typists? However, there were other arguably fatal flaws. One criticism of the study points out that the Dvorak typists were not given adequate time to reach their potential competence, and what promise had been demonstrated by the Dvorak typists was ignored by the researchers. In addition to this flaw in the study, Strong's bias against the Dvorak keyboard was questionable at best. Seven years before the study Strong wrote "I have developed a great deal of material on how to get this increased production on the part of typists on the standard keyboard. Consequently, I am not in favor of purchasing new keyboards and retraining typists on the new keyboard. ... I strongly feel that the present keyboard has not been fully exploited, and I am out to exploit it to its utmost in opposition to the change to new keyboards." In addition, there is other evidence that Strong and Dr. Dvorak had a strained business relationship. It is also notable that when researchers had asked Strong for the data to his study, Strong had destroyed the data.
However, in considering resistance to the adoption of the Dvorak layout, different segments of the market (non-typists, typists, corporations and manufacturers) differ in the extent, nature, and motivation of their resistance. Furthermore, the influence of these factors on the different segments of the market has changed over time, following changes in technology and awareness of Dvorak as an alternative keyboard layout. Factors against adoption of the Dvorak layout have included the following:
An appreciation of the strength of the resistance factors (particularly the investment in typewriter manufacturing) suggests that the Dvorak layout would need to have been significantly superior to the QWERTY layout in order for the former to displace the latter in widespread use in the past. If the Dvorak layout is inherently at least as efficient as, or more efficient than, the QWERTY layout, then one might expect to see an increasing rate of use as resistance factors (such as lack of awareness, non-programmable machines, and one-style formal training) become less powerful. There are no surveys or studies looking at the rate of use of the Dvorak layout over time.
A discussion of the Dvorak layout is sometimes used as an exercise by management consultants to illustrate the difficulties of change. The Dvorak layout is often used as a standard example of network effects, particularly in economics textbooks, the other standard example being the competition between Betamax and VHS. These examples are used to demonstrate that inferior technologies sometimes succeed simply because they become customary, even though the Dvorak layout's superiority is not clearly established.
|Some left-handed Dvorak keyboards have ")(" instead of "()".|
While the alphabetic keys are placed as on the original Dvorak layout, most of the others are changed. The most noticeable difference is that the top row is devoted to brackets and other operational characters, and the numbers must be accessed using the shift key. Also, differing from most Dvorak implementations but following August Dvorak’s original design, the numbers are not placed in ascending order.
Although DSK is implemented in many other languages other than English, there is a possible issue about it. Every Dvorak implementation in other languages leave the Roman characters in the same position as the English DSK. However, other (occidental) language orthographies can clearly have other typing needs for optimization (many very different from English). This raises a point which questions Dvorak Simplified Keyboard’s typing optimizations as language agnostic, and can be another possible cause of Dvorak not replacing QWERTY worldwide.
An implementation for Swedish, known as Svorak, places the three extra Swedish vowels (å, ä and ö) on the leftmost three keys of the upper row, which correspond to punctuation symbols on the English Dvorak layout. These punctuation symbols are then juggled with other keys, and the Alt-Gr key is required to access some of them.
Another Swedish version, Svdvorak by Gunnar Parment, keeps the punctuation symbols as they were in the English version; the first extra vowel (å) is placed in the far left of the top row while the other two (ä and ö) are placed at the far left of the bottom row.
The Swedish variant that most closely resembles the American Dvorak layout is Thomas Lundqvist’s sv_dvorak, which places å, ä and ö like Parment’s layout, but keeps the American placement of most special characters.
The Norwegian implementation (known as "Norsk Dvorak") is similar to Parment’s layout, with "æ" and "ø" replacing "ä" and "ö".
The Danish layout DanskDvorak is similar to the Norwegian.
A Finnish DAS keyboard layout follows many of Dvorak’s design principles, but the layout is an original design based on the most common letters and letter combinations in the Finnish language. Matti Airas has also made another layout for Finnish. Finnish can also be typed reasonably well with the English Dvorak layout if the letters ä and ö are added. The Finnish ArkkuDvorak keyboard layout adds both on a single key and keeps the American placement for each other character.
The Turkish F keyboard layout (F klavye) is also an original design with Dvorak's design principles, however it's not clear if it is inspired by Dvorak or not. Turkish F keyboard was standardized in 1955 and the layout has been a requirement for imported typewriters since 1963.
There are some non standard Brazilian Dvorak keyboard layouts currently in development. The simpler design (also called BRDK) is just a Dvorak layout plus some keys from the Brazilian ABNT2 keyboard layout. Another design, however, was specifically designed for writing Brazilian Portuguese, by means of a study that optimized typing statistics, like frequent letters, trigraphs and words.
The most common German Dvorak layout is the German Type II layout. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. There is also the NEO layout and the de ergo layout, both original layouts that also follow many of Dvorak’s design principles.
There are also French and Spanish layouts, and also a proposed Klavaro Dvorak.
A Hellenic version of the Dvorak layout was released on Valentine’s Day 2007. This layout, unlike other Hellenic Dvorak layouts, preserves the spirit of Dvorak wherein the vowel keys are all placed on the left side of the keyboard. Currently this version is for Mac OS X.
An Italian Mac layout, optimized for this language and with all the accented vowels on the left, is being developed by Paolo Tramannoni. Several PC versions, consisting in the original layout with accented vowels added, are also being developed.
Whether Dvorak or QWERTY, a United Kingdom (British) keyboard differs from the US equivalent in these ways: the " and @ are swapped; the backslash/pipe [ |] key is in an extra position (to the right of the lower left shift key); there is a taller return/enter key which places the hash/tilde [# ~] key to its lower right corner (see picture).
The most notable difference between the US and UK Dvorak classic layout pictured is because the [2 "] key remains on the top row, whereas the US [' "] key moves. This means that the query [/ ?] key retains its classic Dvorak location, top left, albeit shifted.
Interchanging the [/ ?] and [' @] keys more closely matches the US layout, and the use of "@" has increased in the information technology age. These variations, plus keeping the numerals in ascending order, appear in the preferred KB UK Dvorak.png and Dvorak for the KB UK Dvorak Left.png and KB UK Dvorak Right.png varieties.