Mobile devices, Planets and the Human Condition

Why are you still using Qwerty?

, posted: 23-Jun-2006 13:22

From the ibm website: “An English keyboard with better typing speed is the Dvorak keyboard. Despite the better typing performance, this keyboard has never caught on…


Much like most of you who will be reading this,
I too was a Qwerty conformist, for a long time,

come a couple of years ago, I got fed up.

and I switched to Dvorak layout,

it hurt.
in my line of business I am using a keyboard all day everyday, then
most of my hobbies, I am using a keyboard at home for the time Im not at work.

the first couple of weeks it was really hard to adjust to.

but gradually it took hold to the point that it is completely second nature and
I retrained my muscle memory.

The thing I find most fantastic about the layout is the mind->screen speed,
it feels so natural and flowing that whatever i am thinking appears onscreen
without a concious thought to the typing.

I could type fast on a qwerty, but I can type faster now on the dvorak,

so what makes me wonder is in this day and age, especially around the IT industry,
why is such an illogical and archaic keyboard layout still so much the norm,
and even moreso, why is it so uncommon to find someone using anything else?

I have talked to all manner of people about there reasons for still using qwerty
and the resounding majority answer is along the lines of

"because Im used to it" or "thats the way I have already had it" or "its too hard
to change"

- I feel thats a pretty poor excuse, especially for people who work / hobby in
the IT/T type areas, a lot of which is constantly focused on innovation,
improvement, increasing efficiency, and generally taking logical steps to make things

yet the prevailing use of a qwerty keyboard is ongoing.

I think a large part of this is to do with the lack of readily - available

you can operate in dvorak, under windows
(and basically every other operating system) with very little effort, simply by changing
the input in the os.

but that can become painful, as it takes quite a while before you get everything
defaulting to dvorak, especially if you work in a situation where you remotely administer machines.

Im a big fan of the microsoft wireless comfort keyboard 1.0a, but they dont come in dvorak layout.
and as with any remotely ergonomic keyboard you cant switch the keys with one and another because
they are a different shape.

I have called and emailed microsoft, and the only advice they give is they point me to a supplier of keyboard letter stickers.

I dont want to change the stickers I want a Dvorak keyboard that is hardwired
to look like a Qwerty to the operating system.

There are however options out there.

I'll be getting one of these soon: dvoak / qwerty switchable

( Dvorak / Qwerty Switchable, from the keyboard.

very nice keyboards by all accounts.

Well thats about enough of a rant for me, for now,

Id be keen to hear of anyone elses experiences with Dvorak, or another keyboard layout....

better yet, has anyone tried one of these: DataHand!!

Very different, but Im thinking about giving it a go.... Http://

So I'll leave it at;

Think seriously for a second, What reason do you have to use Qwerty?
or at least why is the qwerty layout still being inflicted apon the children?

Please, think of the children.

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Thought powered game controller - Emotiv releases a "mindreader"

Comment by Reader, on 23-Jun-2006 16:43

Randy Cassingham of "This Is True" fame has a site about the Dvorak, at

He uses it himself, and mentions it from time to time in his newsletter.

Comment by juha, on 24-Jun-2006 10:16

I've tried a whole variety of keyboards, including the one for the Psion organisers that have only five keys, plus a modifier. You type on it through "chording" which sort of works once you get used to it - and it's easier to touch type by far. Haven't switched from QWERTY to Dvorak though, because I can never be assured of having the right keyboard in different places. Don't know if I'd be able to learn to touchtype on two different layouts, and remember how to do it. Controversial opinion No 2344: I prefer the MS keyboards. The size, action of the keys, and layouts suit me well and I can type fast on them. I do like the old IBM collapsing spring keyboards too - good for big hands, and they really are indestructible. However, I miss some of the Microsoftie shortcut buttons and if you type fast on the IBM keyboards, you sound like a WWII machine gunner unless you put a towel or something underneath.

Comment by paradoxsm, on 13-Jul-2006 13:28

I used to have something called a ChordBoard many moons ago which had two thumb switches and 5 tingers, I think it may have been homemade, designed for situatins where a regular keyboard would just be far too annoying.

Comment by paradoxsm, on 13-Jul-2006 13:31 shows the concept, mine was a different device, just a small box held in hand. Sorry I stand corrected 4 tingers..., I was a kid when I had this.

Comment by Weevilman, on 13-Jul-2006 19:21

From Wikipedia:

"Frequently used pairs of letters were separated in an attempt to stop the typebars from intertwining and becoming stuck, thus forcing the typist to manually unstick the typebars and also frequently blotting the document

QWERTY also attempted to alternate keys between hands, allowing one hand to move into position while the other hand strikes home a key. This sped up both the original double-handed hunt-and-peck technique and the later touch typing technique; however, single-handed words such as stewardesses and monopoly show flaws in the alternation."

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