QWERTY is a common modern-day keyboard layout. The design is based on Christopher Latham Sholes design for the Sholes and Glidden typewriter which he sold to Remington in the same year. The use and adoption of the QWERTY keyboard is one of the most important case studies in open standards because of the widespread collective adoption and use of the product, particularly in the United States. The first model used a piano-like keyboard with two rows of characters arranged alphabetically.

However, his typewriter had two features which caused jams. The characters were mounted on metal arms which would jam if a neighboring arm was depressed at the same time. The printing point was beneath the paper carriage which could only be checked by raising the carriage to inspect a jam. This is why characters like “th” or “st” were kept separate since they were used in unison so often. QWERTY was originally designed to prevent jams. Sholes tested and rearranged were the keys were in order to reduce crashes and optimize the keyboard. Eventually he came up with a four-row, upper case keyboard that was close to the modern QWERT standard. Remington eventually purchased his device and made some adjustments that were essentially what the modern QWERTY layout is. The Remington No. 2, in 1878, helped QWERTY become popular due to it being the first typewriter to include upper and lower case letters, via a shift key.

The keys were set up not in a grid but in a column that slants diagonally in order to prevent the levers that each key was on from hitting others. Sholes’ 1878 design lacked the numerals 0 and 1 and the letter M was located at the end of the third row to the right of the letter L rather than on the fourth row. The 0 and 1 were omitted to simplify design and lower manufacturing cost and because they could be created using other keys.

The QWERTY layout utilizes the left hand over the right. More words are spelled with the left hand; however, alternating hands while typing is a desirable trait in design since one hand can get ready while the other is typing allowing the user to get into a rhythm.

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