Q:

Why is the keyboard not in alphabetical order?

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Quick Answer

The modern keyboard is not arranged in alphabetical order because millions of users have already learned the QWERTY keyboard layout, which is named after the first six letters in the top row of keys. The reason behind the development of the QWERTY layout as opposed to an alphabetical layout is debated, but two primary theories are accepted explanations.

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Why is the keyboard not in alphabetical order?
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Full Answer

The most popular explanation claims that the key positioning was designed to slow down typists because the early typewriter's mechanical design resulted in jammed keys and components. A recently emerged theory argues that the QWERTY layout was designed to facilitate Morse code receivers because the alphabetical layout was inefficient when translating incoming codes from the telegraph.

The first keyboard patented by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868 had the keys alphabetically arranged. The first documented appearance of the QWERTY keyboard is found in U.S. Patent No. 207,559 and was issued in 1878 to Sholes.

Sholes and his partners sold their design for a typewriter and its keyboard to Remington & Sons, who manufactured the first commercial typewriter. In 1893, Remington and the other four largest typewriter manufacturers, Caligraph, Yost, Densmore and Smith-Premier, merged to form the Union Typewriter Company and agreed to adopt the QWERTY layout as the standard.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why are the letters on a keyboard not arranged in alphabetical order?

    A:

    The origins of the QWERTY keyboard arrangement can be traced to 1868 when the inventor of the typewriter, Christopher Sholes, devised a way to prevent the jamming of typebars in mechanical printers by separating the most commonly used letter combinations. Its name is a combination of the first six letters of the keyboard layout.

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  • Q:

    What are some facts about the QWERTY keyboard layout?

    A:

    Frank McGurrin, a court stenographer and typing teacher from Salt Lake City, Utah, was the first person to memorize the QWERTY keyboard layout. He is also credited with inventing the touch-typing method, by which typists can enter text without looking at the keys. Four 10-letter words that use only the letters in the top row of the keyboard are "perpetuity," "proprietor," "repertoire" and "typewriter."

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  • Q:

    Who designed the QWERTY keyboard layout?

    A:

    Christopher Latham Sholes designed the QWERTY keyboard layout in 1878. Sholes had been working on a typewriter design since the late 1860s, but 1878 is the first documented appearance of the QWERTY design.

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  • Q:

    What are some different types of keyboards?

    A:

    Some different types of keyboards include QWERTY, AZERTY, QWERTZ and HCESAR keyboards, each of which vary with regard to the layout of keys. Other types of keyboards - which vary in terms of physical aspects like shape, the number of keys and the type of connector - include the ergonomic keyboard, the Apple Desktop Bus keyboard and the PS/2 keyboard.

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