facts about the invention
of the "QWERTY" Keyboard by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1875.
AT A GLANCE:
Christopher Sholes with assistance from Amos Densmore rearranged the
typewriter keyboard so that the commonest letters were not so close
together and the type bars would come from opposite directions. Thus they would not clash
together and jam the machine. The new arrangement was the "QWERTY"
arrangement that typists use today.
DID YOU KNOW?
||name / QWER·TY
||A standard typewriter
keyboard -- called also QWERTY keyboard . Name derived from the
first six letters in the second row on English language
computer and typewriter keyboards.
||207,559 (US) issued
August 27, 1878
||February 14, 1819 in
||February 17, 1890 in
1868 Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule patent type
1873 Remington & Sons mass produces the Sholes & Glidden typewriter
1875 Sholes and Amos Densmore redesign keyboard layout
1878 Sholes awarded patent for QWERTY keyboard improvement.
CAPS: Sholes, Christopher Latham
Sholes, Amos Densmore, James Densmore, QWERTY, ARY, qwerty,
typewriter keyboard, computer keyboard, universal keyboard, qwerty
keyboard, SIP, history, biography, inventor, invention.
Look at the keyboard of any standard
typewriter or computer. "Q,W,E,R,T and Y" are the first six letters. Who decided
on this arrangement of the letters? And why?
The first practical
typewriter was patented in the United States in 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes. His
machine was known as the type-writer. It had a movable carriage, a lever for turning paper
from line to line, and a keyboard on which the letters were arranged in alphabetical
But Sholes had a problem. On his first model, his "ABC" key arrangement
caused the keys to jam when the typist worked quickly. Sholes didn't know how to keep the
keys from sticking, so his solution was to keep the typist from typing too fast.
He did this using a study of letter-pair frequency prepared by
educator Amos Densmore, brother of James Densmore, who was Sholes' chief
financial backer. The QWERTY keyboard itself was determined by the existing
mechanical linkages of the typebars inside the machine to the keys on the
outside. Sholes' solution did not eliminate the problem completely, but it
was greatly reduced.
The keyboard arrangement was considered important enough to be included on
Sholes' patent granted in 1878, some years after the machine was into
production. QWERTY's effect, by reducing those annoying clashes, was to
speed up typing rather than slow it down.
The new arrangement was the "QWERTY" arrangement that typists use today. Of
course, Sholes claimed that the new arrangement was scientific and would add speed and
efficiency. The only efficiency it added was to slow the typist down, since almost any
word in the English language required the typist's fingers to cover more distance on the
The advantages of the typewriter outweighed the disadvantages of the
keyboard. Typists memorized the crazy letter arrangement, and the
typewriter became a huge success.
Sholes Biography from The Great Idea Finder
History of Office Equipment
from The Great Idea
Invention of the Typewriter
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Happen: 50 Inventions Discovered by Mistake
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Hardcover - 86 pages
(1996) / Delacorte
Fifty inventions discovered by mistake receive entertaining cartoon embellishment but are
actually serious subjects which will delight and entertain kids.
by Travis Brown / Paperback - 224 pages / Scarecrow Press
(September 1, 2000)
Eighty stories of America's first inventions. Each includes a sketch of the
invention, a profile of the inventor and a glimpse of how the invention has found its way
into American culture.
Typewriter: An Illustrated History
by Victor M. Linoff (Editor), Typewriter Topics / Paperback: 128 pages / Dover Pubns
Until the publication of very rare, superbly illustrated volume, there were few books
dedicated to the early history of the typewriter.
Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
by Friedrich A. Kittler, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young / Paperback: 344 pages (1999) / Stanford
A vital historical dimension to the current debates over the relationship between
electronic literacy and post-structuralism, and the extent to which we are constituted by
Quirky Qwerty: A Biography of the Keyboard
by Torbjorn Lundmark / Hardcover: 176 pages (March 2000) / New South Wales Univ Pr Ltd
The renowned typewriter expert's is sure to stimulate enthusiasm all over again, bringing
you new and as yet unpublished insights into the origins of the invention itself in a
detailed history of the machine.
ON THE WEB:
QWERTY refers to the most common form of layout of letters found on the keyboard of a
typewriter or computer. From the UK Science Museum.
QWERTY is Cool. Learn to love
Despite more than a century of efforts to dislodge it... QWERTY survives.
Typewriters in the Office
SciTech, Carbons to Computers series from the Smithsonian Institution.
Practical writing machines became technologically feasible as early as
the fourteenth century. The invention of at least 112 such machines
preceded the successful Remington typewriter.
Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame™ honors
the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make
human, social and economic progress possible..
Typeing tutor software for sale.
The first practical typewriter was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes, and was
marketed by the Remington Arms company in 1873.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
"Changing the keyboard format is like proposing to reverse the
Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, discard every moral principle, and
ridicule motherhood" - Dr. August Dvorak, no one cared for his
redesigned more efficient keyboard.
DID YOU KNOW?:
was buying resistance to the first typewriters, because poor spellers
could no longer hide their ignorance by using poor handwriting
The word typewriter can be typed entirely using the
top row of the QWERTY keyboard; it has been speculated that this may
have been a factor in the choice of keys for ease of demonstration,
although this is unlikely.
The average person is expected to type 30-40 words
per minute using the touch typing technique on a QWERTY keyboard. 40-50
words per minute is considered excellent, and some have been clocked at
over 90 words per minute.
Samuel L Clemens, better know as Mark Twain, was probably the first
author to submit a typed script to his publisher? - he was one of the
first to purchase a Sholes & Glidden typewriter.
The least expensive typewriter, produced in the late 1800`s, cost only
$1, and was appropriately named, "The Dollar Typewriter"
trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Sources in BOLD Type.
page revised April 26, 2007.
Berners-Lee's invention has revolutionized the world like nothing
The invention of the Internet,
should be classed with the greatest events of the 20th Century.
The Aero Sport All-Terrain Bed
with Dual Power Pump is the perfect addition to any camping trip or weekend
book, is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the
technologically advanced reader alike.
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