History of QWERTY Layout

By Xah Lee. Date: .

The keyboard layout on our keyboard is called QWERTY, because that's the letters showing on the top row.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 a n i h d y u j g c v p m l s r x o ; k f . , b t / w e q \ [ ] ' - = z ` QWERTY Layout
QWERTY layout heatmap

This layout was designed around the time typewriter is invented, by Christopher Latham Sholes, in 1874. (detailed history of typewriter is more complicated.)

Originally, the letters are arranged alphabetically. However, it's discovered that the keys would jam when people type too fast.

Typewriter Hermes-s
A Hermes typewriter, showing key jam. Dated around 1910. 3264×2448

Keyboard Layouts



Layout Efficiency

Xah Keyboard Guide