Sunday, October 29, 2006

An engineer named Christopher Scholes designed the QWERTY layout in 1873 specifically to slow typists down; the typewriting machines of the day tended to jam if the typist went too fast. But then the Remington Sewing Machine Company mass-produced a typewriter using the QWERTY keyboard, which meant that lots of typists began to learn the system, which meant that other typewriter companies began to offer the QWERTY keyboard, which meant that still more typists began to learn it, et cetera, et cetera. -- M. Mitchell Waldrop: Complexity, Simon & Schuster, New York (1992).

The QWERTY keyboard was invented by Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes, not Scholes (cf. U. S. Patent No.207559). In 1873 Mr. Sholes was in the position of editor-in-chief of The Daily Milwaukee News, not an engineer (cf. "Personal Mention", Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, Vol.30, No.293 (December 11, 1873), p.8, l.3). "To slow typists down" is nothing but a hoax by Mr. Robert Parkinson, as I mentioned before. It was E. Remington & Sons, not Remington Sewing Machine Company, that manufactured Sholes & Glidden Type Writer in September, 1873 (cf. John A. Zellers: The Typewriter - A Short History on Its 75th Anniversary 1873-1948, Newcomen Society of England American Branch, New York (1948)). The other typewriter companies, including Caligraph and Hammond, offered their own keyboard arrangements, not QWERTY, in the 1880's. Mr. Waldrop should study more on the history of typewriter before he argue with "increasing returns".

2 Comments:

Blogger Boogie said...

I have taken the opportunity to read over your material and sources and was quite amazed at the information that was absent from my first attempt to address the QWERTY "oligopoly". What I have inferred is that there have been many attempts to refine the QWERTY system, but those attempts have met with industry/manufacturing pressures and conventionality resulting in these ideas never making it to market. So you seem to have a strong command of this subject, do you believe there is refinement or reinvention of the key board that can make it into conventional acceptance?

Thursday, November 16, 2006 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Koichi Yasuoka said...

Well, I think the acceptance of new keyboard arrangement is a very hard task, almost impossible. Because nowadays we have "de jure" standards for QWERTY keyboard, such as ANSI INCITS 154 or JIS X 6002, that the computer companies should obey. So, first we should repeal these standards...

Thursday, November 16, 2006 11:03:00 PM  

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