Why is the Keyboard not in Alphabetical Order?

You might have a lot of questions like: why are keyboards not in abc order? why aren’t keyboards in alphabetical order? why aren’t the letters on a keyboard in alphabetical order? All of these questions have the same answer. In this blog, I will try to provide a good explanation to answer these questions.

Standard used in computers was inherited from typewriters and approximated the letters most used in the English language. Have you ever stopped to wonder why the keyboard is not alphabetical? The key layout follows a unique pattern, known as QWERTY, in reference to the first six keys.

However, to understand the reason behind key placement, we need to go back in time, even before computers. The standard was created to make life easier for those who used typewriters, and it remains so today.

Christopher Scholes: the man behind the keys

The current key pattern we see on all keyboards is the brainchild of American inventor Christopher Scholes. In the 40’s, when he thought of this invention, there were already typewriters with keyboards. However, they followed a distinct pattern.

One of the most popular models was called the Calligraph. It contained every letter twice, one uppercase and one lowercase. The SHIFT key would only be created later. But after all, why did he decide to arrange the keys following the current layout?

There are many versions to explain this positioning. The most accepted is that the keyboard organizes the letters bringing together the most used pairs in the English language. You can see this if you think of words like “you,” “are” and “they.” Note that the set of keys is always closed.

Another, less widely accepted theory is that he positioned the keys in such a way that the mechanical arms with the letters would not hook as often – in which case, the sets of nearby letters would also make perfect sense. However, this would make typing slower, which at the time was welcomed so that the machines had fewer problems.

 Why does this keyboard layout remain in use today?

The explanation for this is quite simple. Have you ever tried moving the keys around? There are programs that allow you to do this, that is, you can assign each key the letter you want. However, we grew up accustomed to this pattern, passed down from generation to generation, and it is not easy to migrate to another.

Why would you relearn typing on the keyboard with a different placement? In practice, you would have no benefit other than stimulating your brain to do something different. Manufacturers think alike, and for that reason, the QWERTY standard has been retained and even migrated to cell phones.

Despite this, this pattern is not the only one that exists. Other inventors created new keyboard layouts, such as AZERTY, dedicated to French, and HCESAR, dedicated to Portuguese. You can find software on the internet that maps the keys on your current keyboard, turning it into a different layout to see how it works.

However, the big problem with all of them is practicality: practically nobody is willing to give up something that works well and with which we are already used. Relearning where the keys are is definitely not a priority in anyone’s plans.

 The evolution of keyboards

Although the 1940s layout has been retained, keyboards have gone through many revolutions to reach today’s level. Softer keys and more precise responses, lighter and more portable models, and the possibility of customization through lights are just some of the alternatives.

With wireless keyboards and mouse, connected to the PC via Bluetooth, peripherals take up less and less space on the desks, leaving that mess with cables all over the place in the past. With multiple possibilities, prices also vary. Everything will depend on your need. The list of keyboard options is immense, but the most important thing is to find a model that suits your typing pattern. The more productive a keyboard allows you to be, the better it is, no matter what the price.

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