Keyboard

QUESTION:

Why are the letters on a typewriter or keyboard all mixed up?

ANSWER:

The first typewriters were made in the mid 1870’s by the Remington Company. Mark Twain was one of the first writers to use one. The standard keyboard (QWERTY) was designed by Christopher  Scholes in 1872. Scholes sold his interest to Remington, the same company that later made rifles.

Typewriters use a mechanism in which the alphabet letters are on the end of a long bar. When a key is struck, the linkage swings the lettered bar into contact with a tape coated with ink. The ink is transferred to paper that is positioned right behind the tape.

Scholes  arranged the keys so that the most commonly used letters were on opposites sides of the keyboard. This array tended to cause less jamming.

Typewriters have gone the way of the horse and buggy. Schools now have keyboarding classes,  instead of typing classes.  Computer keyboards are laid out much like typewriters, but with a lot more function keys.

The United States keyboard on computers is pretty much the standard for the world. Ireland and the UK have some very slight differences. In Germany, as well as much of Central Europe, the  Y and Z are swapped. In France, the A and Q are swapped as well as the Z and W.

Most European keyboards have the  €  symbol for the Euro.  Some newer keyboards in the United States have the Euro  (€ ) symbol, but older models  do not. If you want to look at the symbol, hold down Alt, while typing the numbers  0128. When you let up on the Alt key, the Euro (€) symbol appears on your screen.

By the way, this Christopher Sholes fellow has a Wisconsin connection. He moved from Pennsylvania to Milwaukee as a teen, became a newspaper publisher, served in the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly, and campaigned successfully to abolish capital punishment in Wisconsin. Sholes died of TB in 1890.

His daughter, Lillian, became known as the world’s first typist. She worked in her father’s office. Those first machines only did capital letters.

The “fastest typist in the world” title goes to Barbara Blackburn of Salem, Oregon who was clocked in 2005 at 150 words per minute for 50 minutes.  Her top speed was 212 wpm.

 

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