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[OT] QWERTY key layout (was Re: BigApache for Windows - Why doesn't BSD have an installerpackage like this ???)

Matthew Seaman <m_(_dot_)_seaman_(_at_)_infracaninophile_(_dot_)_co_(_dot_)_uk> wrote:

> On Sun, Aug 01, 2004 at 04:36:57PM -0700, Henrik W Lund wrote:
> > The command to use is umount, not unmount.
> > 
> > umount /cdrom
> > 
> > Don't ask me why they left out the first 'n' there.
> Because typing the sequence u-n-m at speed is really quite difficult.
> It's also the reason that it's perl and not pearl.
> Same as it's hard to type t-h-e correctly all teh time, nad typing
> a-n-d is a bit of a pain too.  Anyone would think that the qwerty
> keyboard layout was designed to slow down your typing speed...

I don't remember where, but I read somewhere that the qwerty layout
was not designed for raw speed (as some people think) but was designed
for speed on _mechanical_ typewriters.  i.e. part of it's design is
to maximize the possibility that you'll alternate left-hand/right-hand,
thus minimizing the possibility that the hammers that fly up and strike
the paper won't jam.  (probably most of you have never used a truely
_manual_ typewriter, and thus don't understand the mechanics ...
manual typewriters use hammers, much like a piano, that have the embossed
letters on them, and you have to hit the key hard enough to cause the
hammer to fly up and strike through the ink ribbon and put the image of
the letter on the paper.  You also had the possibility that if you tried
to type too fast, the next hammer would hit the first hammer as it was
on its way down, thus jamming the typewriter and requiring you to stick
your hand in the mechanism and unjam it, which meant you probably got
ink on your hands ... _unlike_ a piano, all the hammers with the letters
on them were angled to strike the ribbon/paper at exactly the same
location, thus the possibility of collission was very high.)

Anyway ... the fact that the qwerty layout was adopted for electric
typerwriters, and later keyboards that don't have the same restrictions as
manual typewriters is an unfortunate consequence of "let's use something
that everyone already knows."  It would have been better if the folks who
developed the electric typewriter had used the Dvorak layout, but it's
unlikely at this point that the world will switch.

If you've never seen a mechanical typewriter, it's an interesting history
lesson.  It will explain a lot about why the keyboards we use today function
they way they do.  Just wait until you learn how the SHIFT key used to
function!  ... I wonder if I still have that old cheapo typerwriter in
the attic somewhere ...

Bill Moran
Potential Technologies

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