History of the Keyboard:

The first practical typewriter was built in 1867 by Christopher Sholes. Remington and Sons, makers of guns in Ilion, NY, put a successful model on the market in 1874. Some early typewriter models had used toy building blocks for keys. These original typewriters did have their keys in more or less alphabetical order, which seemed to make sense at the time. The one little problem with this arrangement was that the early typists became so proficient that the keys would jam up because they typed too fast.

To slow down the typists, the keys were rearranged into a diabolically difficult pattern. Shole's first typewriter was designed to be used with two fingers, but now typists had to learn to use all ten fingers with the rearranged pattern. The left hand does about 57 percent of the typing, and the right only 43 percent. The three weakest and least coordinated fingers, the two pinkies and the left ring finger make far more than their share of strokes, and to type the most common words one must move up and down between rows. Even with this difficult key arrangement, some typists are still able to type over 170 words per minute on manual typewriters!

You would think, in today's age of word processors and the elimination of carriage bars, that someone would design a more efficient keyboard to speed up productivity and reduce typing fatigue and frustration.

Actually, someone already did. In 1936, August Dvorak researched and designed a more useable keyboard where 70 percent of the typing is done in the home row (for the QWERTY users, its the row that starts with ASDFGHJ...), 57 percent is done with the right hand, and the stronger fingers do more of the work. Studies showed that the overall finger movement with Dvorak's pattern would be reduced by at least 10x.

Why didn't this wonderful new design catch on? Dvorak had an order to supply the US Navy with two thousand (2,000) of these typewriters just as World War II started. However, all of the manufacturers were devoted to wartime productions, and so the order never got filled. It never caught on after the war, either.

Today we have computers and printers capable of processing and printing thousands of words a second, but we can't use our 21st-century technology to its fullest potential, because we still cling to a 19th-century mentality when it comes to keyboards.

Typing Trivia:
Longest word typed with the left hand only: "stewardesses"
Longest word typed with the top row only: "typewriter"
No words can be made from the bottom row, due to lack of vowels.
The longest word that can be typed without a true vowel is "rhythm" and the longest word that can be made without typing the same letter twice is "uncopyrightable".

The Book of Totally Useless Knowledge, by M. Vorhees
IBM Research Labs
Thanks to fellow E2 user TheOneDM6667 for help!