houseHow did “QWERTY” keyboards become standard?

Almost every alphabetic keyboard in the world has the letters in an arrangement called “qwerty,” after the first six letters in the top row. There are several popular myths about the origin of today’s standard keyboard arrangement. Some say it was deliberately designed to slow down typists. What is the truth?

When inventor C. L. Sholes built his first typewriters in 1868, he arranged the keys in alphabetical order. But the clumsy mechanical linkages inside the machine could tangle if certain pairs of keys were struck quickly.

The “qwerty” arrangement fixed the tangling problem by separating the internal links for frequently paired letters, making the machines more reliable. After a historic typing contest, “qwerty” became the standard way to arrange the keys.