The Reason Why Keyboards Aren't Alphabetical

In 2016, it's nearly impossible to go an entire day without using a keyboard. People in just about every profession, from carpenters to kindergarten teachers, have to type something out at work. Even if you don't use a computer at your job, you probably use your smartphone. Thanks to the tiny computers in our pockets, people are typing on keyboards more than ever. We use them so often, in fact, that it's easy to take this arrangement of letters for granted. After all, without keyboards, we'd still be writing all of our correspondence by hand, which would make texting your friends a huge hassle.

But have you ever wondered why the keys on the keyboard are arranged the way they are? I mean, they aren't alphabetical, so what purpose could designers have for putting them in this seemingly arbitrary design? As it turns out, they have a pretty important purpose. The keyboard layout that we use today, which has been dubbed "QWERTY," is the result of years of testing, and, when you see some of the other designs out there, you'll never take it for granted again. Check out the images below to learn more about how the keyboard evolved into what it is today.

The first keyboard design was actually featured on typewriters. While they look like fun when we see them in old movies, typewriters were a pain to use.

Van Sutherland

The keys had a bad habit of sticking together since they were so close to each other. This resulted in one finger push triggering two or three different keys.


So, a man named Christopher Latham Sholes decided to reinvent keyboards by introducing the QWERTY layout. It was given this name because the first six letters on the top row spell out "QWERTY." This new design spaced out the letters that people were using the most, which cut down on instances of accidentally hitting multiple keys at once.


In the days before QWERTY, keyboards were in alphabetical order. Even though this seems like the most logical, it never seemed to work.



This is because the letters were set up in a configuration that didn't consider the combinations that people used most frequently. Once people were taught the correct way to place their hands on the keyboard, typing with the QWERTY layout was a breeze!


That isn't to say there haven't been other designs. The most popular alternative, which many people still use today, is the DVORAK. Looks pretty different, huh?

Toshiyuki IMAI

Then, there's the Colemak, which is pretty close to QWERTY. You'll notice that the "Caps Lock" key has been removed entirely.

Life Hacker

Maltron is the most radical of all the keyboard layouts. It separates the letter keys into two different sections with a number pad in between. It's designed so that your hands move as little as possible.

Life Hacker

Today, every new computer features the QWERTY layout. Even though each keyboard is a little different, you can always count on the layout to be the same.



Just because we haven't moved beyond QWERTY, doesn't mean keyboards aren't still improving. Wireless technology has made keyboards more responsive and easier to use.

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So, the next time you take out your phone to send a text, be glad that we aren't still using alphabetical keyboards.

Anthony Farris

And, who knows? Keyboards might be entirely unrecognizable 100 years from now ...


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H/T: LifeBuzz

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