Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Qwerty vs. Dvorak

As you all have known, I have been a big, huge, nerdy, geek for the Dvorak keyboard. For those of you who live Normal Lives and have absolutely no interest in the geekiness of the Dvorak keyboard, I must tell you all about it. . . .

. . . The Dvorak keyboard was developed in the late 1930s when electric typewriters were introduced as a more efficient layout to the standard "qwerty" layout of manual typewriters. Mr. Dvorak studied the frequency of the most commonly-used letters in typing and placed them in a layout that would enable the typist's hands to strike these letters on a typewriter keyboard in a much more efficient manner. 

The most-used consonants were placed in the right hand on the home row with all the vowels in the left hand on the same row. The least-used letters (q, j, k, x, b, m, w, v, z) were place on the bottom row. 

Also, think of this -- drum your fingers on the desk. You go from the little finger to the index finger. That's a natural hand motion. Dvorak arranged the most-common letter combinations to employ this natural finger-motion.  

Yes, I'm a complete geek when it comes to the Dvorak keyboard. As a pianist who is continually thinking of the best strategy for playing a difficult passage with one's fingers, the Dvorak keyboard enables me to type and express myself in the most efficient manner. 

I've spent the past couple of years re-learning to type from "qwerty" to "Dvorak".  I was an awfully speedy typist, even at the age of 14, when I could bang out an impressive 60 wpm on an old, manual Royal typewriter. I'm now closing in on 80 wpm on Dvorak.

Here's a couple of videos for you so that you can see the difference in finger-motion; between typing on a standard "qwerty" keyboard and on a Dvorak layout.

First, here is my friend, Miss Healthypants, who is extremely fast, typing a paragraph of standard words on a qwerty keyboard. (Notice the finger-hopping and excessive finger motion that is required.)

Now, here I am, typing the same paragraph. Notice how much less finger-motion there is to type the same thing. With the Dvorak layout, 70 percent of all typing is done on the 'home' row. Also, more of the typing is done with the right hand and with the index and third fingers; not with than with the left hand and with the fourth and fifth fingers. The left hand hardly has to move about at all. Also notice how seldom any of the fingers type on the bottom row at all; hardly ever. (It's a pretty ingenious layout -- don't get me started.)
Can you see the difference?

Isn't the just about the most elegant thing ever?

Yes, I am a Dvorak geek. I would never expect anyone to spend two years re-learning how to type.
Sure, it's geeky and nerdy.  

But for me, every time I type on a keyboard, I get to experience a little thrill; some excitement at doing so. 

How many of you have that pleasure?

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At 7:41 AM , Blogger Bob said...

I would fall under the category of NEVER having typewriting pleasure.
That said, that Dvorak keyboard might be fun.

At 11:19 PM , Blogger Condoulo said...

I'm still a user of qwerty myself. I know how to type on Dvorak, even though I'm not terribly efficient at it. I've just never pushed myself to that final step of making the final move over to it.

However, I still do have some thrill and excitement whenever I type on my keyboard. Not based upon the layout, but the mechanics under the keys themselves. I've been using a Model M since early March and I love this keyboard.

At 5:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, tried the finger strumming thing and I strum index to little finger. Can do that very quickly but I find it extremely hard to go the other way. I do know what you mean about it using that - frequently use rolling inward strokes on the Dvorak keyboard (th, rd, st, etc) but not so sure it's that natural.

P.S. am a Dvorak typist, so not a training thing!


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