Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sholes discovered that many English words contained combinations of letters next to each other in the alphabet. ... His solution was as simple as it was ingenious: move common letter-pairs away from each other. He went about the task in a scientific way. He got the educator Amos Densmore (his sponsor's brother) to prepare a frequency study of letter-pairs in the English language. He then used the study to split up as many common letter-combinations as he could and scatter them across his keyboard. When he was finished, the result was the alphabet soup that is the QWERTY keyboard. -- Torbjörn Lundmark: Quirky QWERTY, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney (2002).

Wrong. The most common letter-pair in English words is "th", which is placed adjacently in the QWERTY keyboard. The second is "er" + "re", also placed in the neighborhood of one another. They never stay away in the QWERTY keyboard. Mr. Lundmark's story does not tell the truth of QWERTY.

Additionally, Mr. Amos Densmore was not an educator at that time in 1860's. He was then a proprietor of Densmore Oil Company at Meadville, Pennsylvania, which manufactured train cars for transporting petroleum (cf. U. S. Patent No.53794).

2 Comments:

Blogger Matt Hickford said...

Hi Koichi. Lundmark and other histories mislead. In Scholes' original design, the top row read QWE.TY - the R key was placed on the bottom row. This achieved the separation common letter pairs. However after the design left his hands, Remington transposed the R and period keys, leaving QWERTY as we know it.

E and R jamming is a real problem on my typewriter. T and H don't jam because the keys are on different rows and the typebars distance 4.

Monday, November 26, 2012 8:12:00 PM  
Blogger Koichi Yasuoka said...

Hello, Matt. Do you mean "the typebars" on the very early upstrike typewriters? Anyway, about the placing of typebars, please read my paper "On the Prehistory of QWERTY" (ZINBUN, No.42 (March 2011), pp.161-174).

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 4:52:00 PM  

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