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urban legend
Authored by: SeanAhern on Dec 26, '04 11:14:49PM
like why we all use qwerty keyboards (which was originally designed to slow typing speed down!) instead of the more efficient dvorak layout...

Sorry, that's an urban legend.

Turns out that, when tested, the speed and efficiency of qwerty and dvorak layouts are about the same. The reason the keys were layed out in the way they are on a qwerty keyboard was to help the keys from striking each other in early typwriters. Apparently, most english words can be typed using alternate sides of the keyboard for alternate letters in a qwerty layout. I have heard that the letters to the word "typewriter" were placed all on the top row so that salesmen could easily demonstrate their product. However, I don't know the veracity of that particular nugget.

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urban-er urban legend
Authored by: LWB on Dec 27, '04 11:36:35AM

On a tangential note, I think you have gone way off IMHO (I do not intend to start flame session). Because the dvorak layout utilizes both hands with the most frequently typed characters right under the fingers, the distance one has to move the fingers is much less resulting in faster typing times. I distinctly read a study where dvorak won hands down, after 9 months of training.

If you believe that qwerty is as fast, then so be it. ;)



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urban-er urban legend
Authored by: gshenaut on Dec 29, '04 10:01:23PM
I agree that this is a tangent, but I can't resist adding my 2ยข.

During the time I was finishing my masters thesis, my hands were dying from too much typing, and so in an attempt to find relief, I special-ordered an electric typewriter with a Dvorak keyboard (this was in 1972). I practiced for a month or so and was astounded at how much difference it made to my hands once I became proficient with it. I could spend a whole day typing and my hands felt very relaxed, unlike what they had been like before.

BUT: shortly after that, I started using computers, and all of the terminals at my school were IBM selectrics, none of which were Dvorak. This was way before there could be any significant customizing of keyboards--I was working on an IBM 360 and was lucky to be using a terminal instead of punched cards. So, just as I was mastering the Dvorak keyboard, I was basically forced to give it up and go back to qwerty. It was at least 10 times as hard going back, plus, I also went back to the sore left hand syndrome I had avoided during those few happy months on the Dvorak. I've never gone back again--life's too short to keep changing things like that. However, while the Dvorak may not be the maximally efficient layout, in my mind there is no question that for typing English text, it is much more efficient than qwerty.

Greg Shenaut

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