Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It seems obvious that the traditional typewriter keyboard---the "qwerty" or "Sholes" keyboard---presents many difficulties for novice typists. The arrangement of the letters on the keyboard seems arbitrary and difficult to learn. The keys were organized by the Sholes brothers in 1873 to minimize the jamming of type bars in their early design of the typewriter. They placed the keys that were typed successively as far apart on the keyboard as possible, so that the type bars would approach each other at a relatively sharp angle, thus minimizing the chance of jamming. -- Donald A. Norman and Diane Fisher: "Why Alphabetic Keyboards Are Not Easy to Use: Keyboard Layout Doesn't Much Matter", Human Factors, Vol.24, No.5 (October 1982), pp.509-519.

The Sholes brothers? Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes and whom? Mr. Henry O. Sholes was at Lawrence, Kansas, in 1873 when Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes invented QWERTY keyboard at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. Charles Clark Sholes was at Kenosha, Wisconsin, but he died there on October 5, 1867 (cf. "Died", The Kenosha Telegraph, Vol.28, No.19 (October 10, 1867), p.2, l.1-2). No brother could help Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes when he organized QWERTY keyboard. Furthermore, most-commonly-typed letter sequence in English is "th", which is placed adjacently on the QWERTY keyboard. The second is "er" + "re", also placed in the neighborhood of one another. They never stay far apart on the QWERTY keyboard.


Blogger Qwertie said...

I can't say anything about where different people were at the time, but maybe it would help to know that the goal was not to place pairs in common digraphs far apart on the keyboard. Rather, the goal was to place the type bars for pairs in common digraphs far apart in the circular pattern underneath the paper. However, I have not been able to ascertain the spatial relationship between the keys and the type bars.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:51:00 AM  
Blogger Koichi Yasuoka said...

No, Qwertie. You can find that "T" and "H" are placed adjacently in the type-basket of Sholes' 1872 trial model. You can also find that "E" and "R" are placed adjacently in the type-basket of Sholes & Glidden Type Writer (1873 commercial model). Though 1873 commercial model was different from the 1872 trial model in its type-basket arrangement, their keyboard arrangements were very similar, as I mentioned before.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Kami said...

Ok friend, I read/skimmed through everything you had to say about the QWERTY keyboard...but now I'm confused about purpose in doing all this research. Is it to prove that most sources we view as reliable are not, consequently, we need to gather as much information about a particular subject and find out for ourselves whether it is correct instead of jumping to conclusions too quickly. Or are you trying to imply that the QWERTY keyboard is an insufficient keyboard to be using. And if this is what you are trying to imply what actions are you currently taking to change it? Is it even possible to do anything about it or are you just heading towards a dead end road? Why would you spend so much time researching this topic if you have no means or even intentions of applying what you’ve learned? I see you’re making a book, with all your ideas concerning the matter. Great. But will that be enough to make a change? I’m not trying to say what your doing is stupid. I’m just saying it could be.

Friday, December 08, 2006 2:02:00 PM  
Blogger Koichi Yasuoka said...

Welcome, Kami. Well, first of all, this blog is nothing but a by-product of my daily research. I'm trying to dig out so many newspapers and magazines concerning QWERTY, but it's not the main purpose of my research. I want to figure out what methodology is suitable for the research in the new vista, which will be called "Humanities Informatics", and this blog is one of the experiments to find out the methodology. Yes, of course, some experiments will be failed, but one success is enough for the purpose...

Friday, December 08, 2006 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Kami said...

So from my understanding the purpose of all this research is the clarify the facts of the development of the current keyboard setup. Not necessarily to change the arrangement of the keys on the keyboard but to expand people's knowledge of it's history. Tell me if I'm completely wrong.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 12:06:00 PM  

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