Why Aren’t the Keys on a Typewriter in Alphabetical Order?
While Christopher L. Sholes was developing the first successful typewriter in 1867, he originally tried arranging the keys in alphabetical order. The long type bars in this early model fell back into place through the pull of gravity. If a typist tried typing too fast, the bars became tangled with each other.
As a solution to this key-jamming problem, Sholes rearranged the keys so that the letters most often typed were as far apart from one another as possible. The pattern that resulted from this arrangement is still that of the standard type-writer keyboard.
This common arrangement of the letters of the alphabet is known as the “universal” keyboard. Some experts claim that this arrangement is actually a very good one. They say that the letters that occur together most often in words are placed so that the operator’s fingers reach them successively in the most natural way.