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Dvorak vs Qwerty

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By plooms
Words 834
Pages 4
Keith Davis
EGR 104 DATE \@ "MMMM d, y" March 30, 2014

Historical Tech Critical Review
An inquiry of keyboard layouts

A keyboard layout is the arrangement of the keys on a keyboard or typewriter. Rather than following, “A, B, C, D E, F…” you will notice that your keyboard follows the layout of “Q, W, E, R, T, Y”, known as the QWERTY keyboard layout. The creator of QWERTY, Christopher Latham Sholes, had originally invented a layout with a first mentioned style, where every letter follows an alphabetical order:
- 3 5 7 9 N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 2 4 6 8 . A B C D E F G H I J K L M

This soon became an issue with typewriters as the metal arms (typebars) would clash and jam. Sholes began to rearrange his keyboard layout so that commonly used letter combinations in the English language, such as “th” and “st” were further apart, thus preventing the typebars from jamming. Contrary to popular belief, this strategy was not to slow down the typist but rather speed them up by preventing jams. After many keyboard layout variations and Sholes’ collaboration with partners, it was eventually sold to E. Remington & Sons. From there, the company made many adjustments to QWERTY, eventually arriving at the modern layout most of us use today:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - =
Q W E R T Y U I O P [ ] \
A S D F G H J K L ; '
Z X C V B N M , . / To reiterate, this is currently the most popular keyboard layout, which makes it an indisputable success. Many things have lead to its domination of the global keyboard layout market but the main reason is the “network effect”. The effect is present when the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of other people using it. Like telephones and social media, keyboard layouts become more useful as more users adopt it. Sholes brought us the QWERTY keyboard through reason, as a way to speed up typing by preventing typewriter jamming. That along with intellectual humility and faith in reason, he refined his keyboard numerous times to further improve type speed. Though, time and research may show the QWERTY layout to be slower an less accurate as alternatives, as Sholes’ design increased those characteristics mainly through jam prevention. Another attribution to the success of QWERTY is the belief that alternatives fail to provide significant advantages. One such alternative is the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout, or simply, Dvorak. It was patented by Dr. August Dvorak and is brother in-law, Dr. William Dealey, in 1936 some 58 years after the release of the Remington No. 2 and the creation of the modern QWERTY layout. This layout places the most commonly used letters and letter combinations in the English language close to each other, thus reducing finger motion. Dvorak and his proponents claim that this in turn increases typing speed, accuracy, and reduces repetitive strain injuries when compared to the standard QWERTY layout. Many studies have been conducted to determine advantages of Dvorak over QWERTY, beginning with the original studies conducted by Dvorak himself. While serving in the Navy during World War II, Dr. Dvorak produced a study claiming that typist could be retrained to the Dvorak layout in a short 10 days. It must also be noted that Dvorak had discarded at least two previous studies. One such later study conducted by Earl Strong found it to take at least 100 training hours to reach the participants previous QWERTY typing rate, much longer than the Navy study claimed. Additionally, the carefully controlled study failed to show any significant increase of typing speed with Dvorak as compared to QWERTY. Many subsequent studies have shown similar results. The Simplified Dvorak Keyboard has certainly failed by comparison to QWERTY by measure of popularity. Grown in the Dvorak layout had also begun to wane after studies began showing results without significant advantages. Dr. Dvorak showed a lack of critical thinking throughout the production of his keyboard layout. From not having intellectual humility in presenting all of his studies, to not considering alternative solutions to increasing typing performance. Other studies have since shown that typing speed nor accuracy is not necessarily determined by reduced finger motion. Though perhaps through intellectual perseverance, more research may find the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard as a layout that does in fact increase typing speed and accuracy.
Citations
* US 79868, Shole, C. Latham; Carlos Glidden & Samuel W. Soule, "Improvement in Type-writing Machines", issued July 14, 1868 * Rehr, Darryl, Why QWERTY was Invented * http://www.maltron.com/media/lillian_kditee_001.pdf * Rehr, Darryl. "Consider QWERTY". Retrieved 12 December 2011. * Koichi and Motoko Yasuoka: On the Prehistory of QWERTY, ZINBUN, No.42, pp.161-174, 2011. * Robert Parkinson. "The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard: Forty Years of Frustration". Retrieved 2010-04-26. * http://reason.com/archives/1996/06/01/typing-errors

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