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Definition

QWERTY keyboard

The QWERTY (pronounced KWEHR-tee ) keyboard is the standard typewriter and computer keyboard in countries that use a Latin-based alphabet. QWERTY refers to the first six letters on the upper row of the keyboard. The key arrangement was devised by Christopher Latham Sholes whose "Type-Writer," as it was then called, was first mass-produced in 1874. Since that time, it has become what may be the most ubiquitous machine-user interface of all time.

The QWERTY arrangement was intended to reduce the jamming of typebars as they moved to strike ink on paper. Separating certain letters from each other on the keyboard reduced the amount of jamming. In 1932, August Dvorak developed what was intended to be a faster keyboard, putting the vowels and the five most common consonants in the middle row, with the idea that an alternating rhythm would be established between left and right hands. Although the Dvorak keyboard has many adherents, it has never overcome the culture of learning to type on a QWERTY.

This was last updated in March 2006

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