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Tuesday, 03 July 2018 16:24

Why the keyboard is not in alphabetical order

Have you ever wondered why the keyboard is not arranged in alphabetical order?

The reason goes back to the time of manual typewriters. Early models of Typewriters had the keys arranged in alphabetical order. However, it was later discovered that some people typed so fast that the mechanical character keys got jammed easily with this arrangement.

This meant that letters were being missed and without a ‘backspace’ option, work had to be redone.

To prevent this, the keys were rearranged so that the weaker fingers were needed more frequently. This meant that people typed at a speed which the machine could handle. As a result, the ‘QWERTY’ keyboard came into existence that we find and use today.


The QWERTY keyboard layout was devised and created in the 1860s by the creator of the first modern typewriter, Christopher Sholes, a newspaper editor from Milwaukee. Originally, the characters on the typewriters he invented were arranged alphabetically, set on the end of a metal bar which struck the paper when its key was pressed. However, once an operator had learned to type at speed, the bars attached to letters that lay close together on the keyboard became entangled with one another, compelling the typist to manually unstick the typebars, and also regularly blotting the document. A business associate of Sholes, James Densmore, suggested splitting up keys for letters commonly used together to speed up typing by preventing common pairs of typebars from striking the platen at the same time and sticking together.

There are varied opinions on this rearrangement of letters in the keyboard. The logic of the QWERTY layout was based on letter usage in English rather than positioning of letters in the alphabet. However, some sources assert that the QWERTY layout was designed to slow down typing speed to further reduce jamming. Also, the QWERTY keyboards were made so one could type using keys from the top row of the keyboard. On the other hand, there are sources who assert the rearrangement worked by separating common sequences of letters in English. Apparently, the hammers that were likely to be used in quick succession were less likely to hinder with each other. This random arrangement eventually became standard in computers later followed by the devices made after that.>

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