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".

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It took considerably longer for someone to realize the fundamental weakness of the Qwerty keyboard. That someone was August Dvorak, director of research at the University of Washington. With the help of two grants from the Carnegie Corporation, Dvorak analyzed the problems of teaching and learning typing. -- Shirley Boes Neill: "Dvorak vs. Qwerty: Will Tradition Win Again?", Phi Delta Kappan, Vol.61, No.10 (June 1980), pp.671-673.

Dr. August Dvorak was not the first one who attempted to oust the QWERTY keyboard. Mr. George Canfield Blickensderfer, Mr. Sidney Walter Rowell, Mr. Framerz Mehervanji Muncherji Manaji, Mr. Chandler Wolcott, Mr. William Wilson Nelson, Dr. Roy Edward Hoke, Mr. William Allen Gilbert, and so many people before Dr. Dvorak challenged to the tyranny of QWERTY. Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes, the inventor of the QWERTY keyboard, was also unsatisfied with QWERTY, and tried to improve the keyboard arrangement in 1880's. On his improved keyboard Mr. Sholes placed the vowels in "home row" of the right hand, and frequently-used consonants, T, N, S, H, R, and D, in its above row (shown below, taken from U. S. Patent No.568630). After Mr. Sholes died, however, his patents were assigned to Mr. Clarence Walker Seamans, the first president of the Union Typewriter Company. Mr. Seamans, who pushed forward the oligopoly of QWERTY, never released Mr. Sholes' improved keyboard to the market.Sholes' improved keyboard

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The first practical typewriter was invented by Latham Sholes in 1867. Sholes had for partners S. W. Soule and Carlos Glidden, but these two men became discouraged and dropped out. It wasn't till some years later that Sholes got his machine ready for the market. Then he took it to a big firm of gunmakers, the Remingtons, and it at once began to sell on a large scale. Sholes remained in the employ of the Remingtons up to the time of his death. -- "History of the Typewriter", The Elyria Chronicle Daily (Elyria, Ohio), Vol.3, No.660 (August 18, 1906), p.8, l.2.

Mr. Carlos Glidden didn't drop out of inventing "Type Writer". He kept in touch with Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes, and he kept improving "Type Writer" (cf. U. S. Patent No.200351). However, Mr. Glidden was ill and deceased on March 11, 1877. It was Mr. James Densmore, the attorney of Mr. Sholes, and Mr. George Washington Newton Yost that took "Type Writer" to E. Remington & Sons in February, 1873 (cf. The Story of the Typewriter 1873-1923, Herkimer County Historical Society, Herkimer (1923)). Then Messrs. Densmore and Yost founded The Type Writer Company to secure the patents of Mr. Sholes, so that Mr. Sholes didn't directly contact with Remington people (cf. U. S. Patent No.182511). Mr. Sholes had never been in the employ of Remington until his death on February 17, 1890 (cf. "Mr. Sholes Dead", The Milwaukee Sentinel, No.15692 (February 18, 1890), p.1, l.7). After his death, some of his patents were assigned to Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict, the parent company of Remington Standard Type-Writer Manufacturing Company (cf. U. S. Patent No.568630).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The first typewriters could print only upper case letters. The addition of lower case letters was, at first, accomplished by adding a new key for each lower case letter, so in effect there were two separate keyboards. Some early typewriters organized the keys for upper case differently than for lower case. Imagine how difficult it would be to learn that keyboard! It took years to develop the shift key so that both upper and lower case letters could share the same key. This was a nontrivial invention, combining mechanical ingenuity with a dual-faced typebar. -- Donald A. Norman: The Psychology of Everyday Things, Basic Books, New York (1988).

Wrong. The first typewriter with upper and lower case letters was Remington No.2 that was introduced in January, 1878 (cf. "The Improved Type-Writer", The Type-Writer Magazine, Vol.2, No.1 (January 1878), pp.10-11,17,19-24). Remington No.2 actualized platen-shift mechanism by Mr. Byron Alden Brooks, which literally shifts the platen to the front in order to type upper case letters, so that both upper and lower case letters shared the same typebar and the same key (shown below, taken from U. S. Patent No.202923). The first typewriter with separate keys for upper and lower case letters was Caligraph No.2 that was released four years behind Remington No.2 (cf. "The Caligraph", The Caligraph Quarterly, Vol.1, No.1 (October 1882), pp.1-2,20-21,30). Prof. Norman's "psychology" doesn't stick to the facts on typewriters.Brooks' platen-shift mechanism