QWERTY is 138 years old

The venerable QWERTY keyboard is 138 years old and despite numerous attempts to change it the same layout persists.

While there are several stories about its development I tend to believe that it was originally designed to accommodate a typewriter – a series of levers attached to letters which did not jam frequently during fast typing.

In 1936, Dvorak introduced a simplified keyboard, but he still had to deal with the problem of type bars jamming. Ironically, computer using a QWERTY keyboard don’t have any such constraints.

Whatever its raison d'être it has stood the test of time. Until now.

A retired, Canadian, music theorist, Joseph M. Krush, Ph. D. who has been playing piano and typing since 1960, has drafted up a preliminary model of a new computer keyboard layout, which he believes will enable most people to type at least 100 wpm, and will see the world’s fastest typists racing at 200 wpm or higher. 

“It occurred to me,” says Krush, “that if I used Set Theory in a similar way, then I could come up with a preliminary model of a computer keyboard, which would be far superior to the QWERTY layout”.

Krush’s keyboard uses a 12 key x 3 row layout, in which the 12 most commonly used letters lay in the home row, and the next 12 lay in the row above, so that 99.8% of typing is done in these two rows.  He also introduces a Double Shift Key, located where the spacebar is now.  “This key has enabled me to eliminate the entire top row of the current keyboard by placing the digits, and the shift position symbols, in the home row, and in the row above, respectively,” says Krush.

For Krush this a labour of love and he is hoping to get funding through Fundageek. There is a video there and a lot of detail about the process to get this to market.

He needs to raise about CAN$9,000 and it’s a good cause so consider making a pre-30 June contribution.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!