Perhaps August Dvorak Is More Your Type

One of the strangest things about human nature is our tendency toward inertia. We take so much uncontrollable change in stride, but when our man-made constructs stop making sense, we’re suddenly stuck in our ways — for instance, the way we measure things in the US, or define daytime throughout the year. Inertia seems to be the only explanation for continuing to do things the old way, even when new and scientifically superior ways come along. But this isn’t about the metric system — it’s about something much more personal. If you use a keyboard with any degree of regularity, this affects you physically.

Many, many people are content to live their entire lives typing on QWERTY keyboards. They never give a thought to the unfortunate layout choices of common letters, nor do they pick up even a whisper of the heated debates about the effectiveness of QWERTY vs. other layouts. We would bet that most of our readers have at least heard of the Dvorak layout, and assume that a decent percentage of you have converted to it.

Hardly anyone in the history of typewriting has cared so much about subverting QWERTY as August Dvorak. Once he began to study the the QWERTY layout and all its associated problems, he devoted the rest of his life to the plight of the typist. Although the Dvorak keyboard layout never gained widespread adoption, plenty of people swear by it, and it continues to inspire more finger-friendly layouts to this day.

Composer of Comfort

Image via @mwichary

August Dvorak was born May 5th, 1894 in Glencoe, Minnesota. He served in the US Navy as a submarine skipper in WWII, and is believed to be a distant cousin of the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák. Not much has been published about his early life, but Dvorak wound up working as an educational psychologist and professor of the University of Washington in Seattle, and this is where his story really begins.

Dvorak’s interest in keyboards and typing was struck when he advised a student named Gertrude Ford with her master’s thesis on the subject of typing errors. Touch typing was only a few decades old at this point, but the QWERTY layout had already taken a firm hold on the industry.

As Dvorak studied Ford’s thesis, he began to believe that the QWERTY layout was to blame for most typing errors, and was inspired to lead a tireless crusade to supplant it with a layout that served the typist and not the typewriter. His brother-in-law and fellow college professor, William Dealey, joined him on this quest from the beginning.


Dvorak and Dealey put a great deal of effort into analyzing every aspect of typing, studying everything from frequently-used letter combinations of English to human hand physiology. In 1914, Dealey saw a demonstration given by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, who were using slow-motion film techniques to study industrial processes and worker fatigue. He told Dvorak what he’d seen, and they adopted a similar method to study the minute and complex movements of typists.

In 1936, after two decades of work, Dvorak and Dealey debuted a new layout designed to overcome all of QWERTY’s debilitating detriments. Whereas QWERTY places heavy use on the left hand and forces fingers outside the home row over 60% of the time, the Dvorak layout favors hand alternation and keeping the fingers working at home as much as possible. In this new arrangement, the number of words that can be typed without leaving the home row increased by a few thousandfold. Dvorak and Dealey along with Gertrude Ford and Nellie Merrick published all of their psychological and physiological findings about typing in the now out-of-print Typewriting Behavior (1936).

The original Dvorak layout. From Typewriting Behavior via @rand.ferch

Haters Gonna Hate

Dvorak teaching in 1932. Image via The University of Washington

At first, it seemed as though the Dvorak-Dealey simplified layout had half a chance of supplanting QWERTY. Dvorak found that students who had never learned to touch type could pick up Dvorak in one-third the time it took to learn QWERTY.

Dvorak entered his typists into contests, and they consistently out-typed the QWERTYists by a long shot. It got so bad that within a few years, Dvorak typists were banned outright from competing. This decision was overturned not long after, but the resentment remained. QWERTY typists were so unnerved by the speed of the Dvorak typists that Dvorak typewriters were sabotaged, and he had to hire security guards to protect them.

The QWERTY is Too Strong

Although there were likely many factors at play, the simple fact is that by the time Dvorak patented his layout, Remington & Sons had cornered the market on typewriters. Even so, Dvorak released his keyboard during the Depression, and hardly anyone could afford to buy a new typewriter just because there was some hot new layout.

Although Dvorak typewriters were never mass-produced, they almost made waves thanks to the US Navy. Faced with a shortage of trained typists during WWII, they experimented with retraining QWERTY typists on Dvorak and found a significant increase in speed. They allegedly ordered thousands of Dvorak typewriters, but were vetoed by the Treasury department because of QWERTY inertia.

August Dvorak went on to make one-handed keyboards with layouts for both the left and right hand. In 1975, he died a bitter man, never understanding why the public would continue to shrug their overworked shoulders and keep using QWERTY keyboards. He might have been pleased to know that the Dvorak layout eventually became an ANSI standard and comes installed on most systems, but dismayed to find the general population still considers it a fringe layout.

I’m tired of trying to do something worthwhile for the human race. They simply don’t want to change!

129 thoughts on “Perhaps August Dvorak Is More Your Type

  1. I have been well aware of the built-in, purposeful inefficiency of the QWERTY keyboard. However, after close to 60 years experience as a touch-typist, I’m not interested in retraining my muscle-memory; way too much effort for so little gain…

      1. The thing that’s too often overlooked is that it’s not really about typing SPEED, it’s about COMFORT. Significantly less finger movement and what I can only describe simply as a better “flow” of keystrokes.

    1. Laptops don’t have Dvorak. I could modify one, but then nobody else could use it, and my chances of learning to type without actually being able to see the correct letters are pretty low, since I don’t have months to dedicate to the project.

      I don’t use Dvorak for the same reason I don’t use Vim. It’s a questionable increase in overall productivity, with a large up front time cost.

      Still a great article for historical interest though. I didn’t know most of this stuff before.

      1. >Laptops don’t have Dvorak.

        I can’t speak for Apple macOS, but Windows and Linux laptops have Dvorak built in for many many years now. Maybe you haven’t looked in the keyboard input settings?

        >I could modify one, but then nobody else could use it

        On Windows and GNOME3, you simply have to hit Win+Space to flip the between QWERTY and Dvorak.

        1. I love it how the army of little goblins come out of my laptop and erase all the lettering on the keys and quickly paint on the new letters.

          After all the parent post was about the physical print on the keys. And even mentioned that you can do the software layout change, but that does not help you learning the other layout.

          1. I strongly recommend against learning Dvorak with a keyboard that is properly labeled as such. I found it to be nothing but a hindrance to touch typing. I recommend you put a GIF of the layout somewhere in easy reach. And pop that up whenever you have trouble.

            Your habit needs to be to look at your screen, not at your hands. You need to imagine your fingers moving to the right place on the keyboard.

          2. How about if your “army of little goblins” is deployed on a portable keyboard that has the Dvorak layout key legends, and you use that wherever you type on a computer/tablet/phone, etc? That just occurred to me while reading this article, and the many comments on the impracticality of moving from one computing device to another, which I do a lot (bad habit of mine due to my ceaseless quest to find the “ultimate computing device”, and how cheap it has gotten to engage in that quest, especially via eBay…).

            I have developed the practice of pairing my favorite keyboard, a bluetooth Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 keyboard, with many of the various devices I mess around with. It has my preferred mouse substitute/complement in an optical TrackPoint, which enables it have more dedicated keys (PgUp//PgDn/Home/End, etc), which are also larger than usual for a 10″x5″ (plus its extra 2″ tray for holding a tablet) keyboard.

            I have dabbled with Dvorak in the past, especially with smart phones, beginning with the MS Windows CE models from the late 90’s on, as I had to develop thumb-typing skills for these gadgets, and realizing that since I had to learn a new set muscle-memory “moves”, I might as well make it efficient via Dvorak layouts. But that led to the ugly reality, that very few devices had that as an option, and, that was the case for many PC’s I dealt with in my IT career, not to mention supporting PC’s for my wife, and the kids in her elementary classrooms, and our own 4 children. Inertia indeed!

            But now I see that I can act on my Dvorak yearning by using my portable, favorite keyboard as my “Point Of Contact” (POC) with most of my devices (that have bluetooth). Thanks for the inspiration!

          3. I second the notion of a small card “cheat sheet”. I used that years ago to learn the Korean Hangul layout and it was quite effective. I tried stickers but wasn’t impressed and took them off.

          1. The Apple IIc had it back in 1984! There was a hardware switch to toggle between two layouts. On international versions of the computer, it switched between local and en-US layouts, but on the US versions of the IIc, it switched between qwerty and Dvorak.

        2. You can flip the layout in software, but the actual physical keys won’t match, and I’d be down to like, maybe 3 words per minute typing blind. Learning to touch type would be a really big up front time investment.

          Coding culture is full of this “Work 8 hours and spend another 2 to become a better programmer”, but that’s really not the way jobs normally work, and programming is only about half my job anyway.

          Might be worth it for a real full time programmer looking to make it to the top, but it seems like a really big investment for anyone else, unless they’re one of those people that just kinda naturally pick up manual skills without really trying.

        1. Ooooh, snarky. His wax tablet could still be physically changed or “reset” simpler that the key goblins could change his laptop keys. Otherwise, “Look at that silly man banging away on his laptop. He’s trained himself to type using a substitution cipher but missed the point…his putput is readable.”

        2. Uh… I think that’s the opposite of what someone who isn’t talented with their hands wants to use…. I always have to think about every letter when I’m writing by hand unless I want it to look like complete crap, typing lets me focus of what I’m writing rather than legibility.

          I hear writing by hand is better for memorization, but for a story or a technical report or something, typing is far easier.

    2. just switching to one of those ergonomic curved keyboards wrecked my typing speed for over a decade. it took me forever to get used to typing on a normal straight keyboard again. switching to dvorak is out of the question at this point.

      i have a similar issue with gui design, specifically the interface newer versions of windows uses. give me an old win2k style start menu any day. and stop letting the hordes of screen tappers meddle in desktop os ui design ever again.

  2. Think twice about learning Dvorak if you work on multiple platforms. I never learned to properly touch-type growing up. I tried to learn later but it was hard to break the habit of peaking at the keyboard, and falling back to old habits when I was in a hurry. I figured I’d rectify it by learning a new layout. It worked. I type fast as lightening these days. However…

    I’m a developer and spend a lot of time remoting into other environments. Tons of remote access software doesn’t respect your keyboard layout. Same problem when you’re working on something other than your personal machine. However, my qwerty skills have heavily atrophied.
    In the end, I can type lightening fast on my own devices, but I type like a grandpa on anything else.

    1. I can find the Dvorak setting on OSX, Windows, and Linux (GNOME and KDE) quickly enough. Colemak being far less common to see pre-installed on mainstream operating systems.

      I do also use a modified layout that requires some custom keymaps installed on each system, it’s rather painful when dealing with multiple systems. (escape and ~ swapped, caps and control swapped, right alt as both a compose key and altgr).

      1. Yeah, for systems that you regularly deal with, it’s pretty manageable.
        The biggest annoyances in my day-to-day are the one-off situations. Logging into a customer for some quick training, ironing out a mistake someone made during the deployment, pulling logs, etc.

        1. Have you tried setting the keyboard type at both ends? Your local machine and the remote one? Dunno if it would work, or be possible / allowed on a remote machine you don’t own, but thought it’s worth mentioning.

          It’s kind of idiotic of Microsoft (… and there I can either end the sentence, or add any number of others…) that there’s so many layers of indirection in Windows with the sole purpose of slowing everything down, but they’re apparently sending raw scancodes in remote-access software. Where the chance of accessing a machine in a foreign country is pretty high, what with this new-fangled Internet and everything.

          Maybe they’re still pissed off at us for MSN not taking off. So that’s part of our punishment. Wouldn’t put it past Bill or chair-chucking whatsisface, or whichever drone they’ve put in charge now, cloned from a growth on Bill’s back, the way Melinda told him all children are made.

  3. I’ll just leave this here:

    “The paper by Messrs Liebowitz and Margolis shows, in the first place, that the first evidence supporting claims of Dvorak’s superiority was extremely thin. The main study was carried out by the United States Navy in 1944 (doubtless a time when every second counted in the typing pools). The speed of 14 typists retrained on Dvorak was compared with the speed of 18 given supplementary training on QWERTY. The Dvorak typists did better—but it is impossible to say from the official report whether the experiment was properly controlled. There are a variety of oddities and possible biases: all of them, it so happens, seeming to favour Dvorak.

    But then it turns out—something else the report forgot to mention—that the experiments were conducted by one Lieutenant-Commander August Dvorak, the navy’s top time-and-motion man, and owner of the Dvorak layout patent.”

    1. Thanks for adding this info. But I’m still kind of wondering if studies are even needed to show that Dvorak is faster.

      If you take random sentences and measure how many times your fingers need to leave the home row, it appears to me that Dvork results in a lot less traveling from the home row. So it makes sense that it would be faster, unless there is other complicating factors I can’t think of.

    2. I have heard before that Dvorak’s gains are exaggerated. For one thing, I used to do data entry part-time, and I got up to a rocketing speed on QWERTY. The better typists though were consistently getting over 100,000 keys an hour (how we were measured, for bonus-calculating purposes) on the run of the mill QWERTY keyboards that the computers came with. How much faster could they possibly be on Dvorak? They’d have to mix the letters up again, just to slow them down! (yes that’s a joke)

      I dunno what the bottleneck is in typing. Certainly with me the letters would flow straight to my fingers as soon as I thought of them, if anything taking the words apart into letters was the hard bit. Or even reading them, and I’m a fast reader. Sometimes I might get a finger or two tangled up and have to stop for a second to reset.

      Muscle memory doesn’t seem to mind how it’s programmed. The concept Dvorak relies on is that physical finger movement, the time it takes to move fingers between keys, is what takes up the majority of a typist’s time. I doubt that’s the case. It also doesn’t seem to take much longer to press a key out of the “home row” than in it. Some keys on the little or ring finger can be a bit of a stretch and require moving the wrist along a bit. Still, I’m typing this now nearly as fast as I’m thinking of it, and I’m not really trying for speed. Nobody’s paying me!

      Did you know there are (or were) national typing speed competitions in the UK? Maybe international ones too. Our fastest typist was the current champion while I was there. This was all a good few years ago though. Hopefully there’s not as much need of data enterers any more. I did it in the early 2000s, and even then a lot of what we were typing, came on obviously laser-printed sheets! We typed it back in, and sent it off to the customer. Either through modem, or a 9-track tape! Yep the old 1960s mainframe tape reels! In this case though the drive was a desktop model, not much bigger than a couple of desktop PCs stacked on top of each other.

      The fact it was laser printed though is annoying. It must have come from a computer. We typed it into another computer. So our agency of a few dozen mostly women was taking the place of a serial cable, essentially. If somebody had tipped the clients off about the “floppy disk” it’d have wiped out so many jobs! Not all of it was laser printed but our biggest client’s stuff was.

      I also once typed in the customer-satisfaction form from some antidepressants from a famous ’70s musician. Can’t remember what he thought of them. From seeing the miserable sod on Countdown occasionally though I don’t doubt he was depressed, poor bloke. We didn’t sign any sort of agreements re this but it’s hardly top secret.

      I suppose our strength was that OCR was pretty rubbish back then, even after a few decades’ development. It hasn’t got much better since. Seems like it hit it’s limit pretty early in life. A human being is better at reading and can also make a somewhat intelligent decision on what the person writing probably meant. Still, so much of our work was printed, not handwritten. If it’s gone obsolete now that’s no bad thing. It’s good when shit and tiresome jobs disapear. People get pissed off at the time, but nobody now laments for home weavers and their expensive inferior cloth. Bring on the robots, give the rich a bit of a threatening, then we can all put our feet up and live like kings! If they ever crack nanotech as a viable way of manufacturing (and manufacturing an atom at a time doesn’t seem like it’s gonna produce much bread, or cars) and nuclear fusion, we can have infinite abundance, which is the only way a civilised intelligent creature ought to live. Then we just need to find some of those creatures and give the abundance to them.

  4. I learned the Dvorak layout once upon a time. It was a really cool exercise having to fight my muscle-memory of QWERTY. I then used Dvorak for a year or more, but ultimately stopped because it became too frustrating to pick up someone else’s machine or otherwise use a different computer and have to between the two layouts.

    1. I learned to type in US layout (QWERTY), but we use a national layout around here for a long time. I can switch between the two without too much problem. Sometimes I travel for a good amount of time and use other PCs or my notebook with the other layout, but when I get home, sit at my desktop and use my good mechanical US keyboard it’s a damn good sensation and relief. I still refuse to switch completely to the national layout. In my last job I bought a US keyboard and used it there.

      1. That remembers me a joke we did to a friend: we switched the key caps of the B and V letters, and also changed the windows registry to swap the keycodes, so when he pressed the B, a ‘b’ letter appeared in the screen, and the same with the V, but both were physically swapped (I think that in Spain this joke is more fun than in the USA).

        Unfortunately, although at the beginning he had some trouble, in only an evening he got used to it, and in fact he didn’t notice the change until we pointed it out :-O Amazingly enough, he was swapping from the desktop computer (which had the key caps swapped) and his laptop (which had a normal keyboard) without problem.

          1. When we were shopping for a used laptop for my wife’s bedside machine, she was very firm about wanting a backlit keyboard. We found a nice HP at a local computer recycler and were all ready to pick it up, and then realized it had a Latin American Spanish keyboard, but still mapped as a US one — so all the _letters_ are in their standard QWERTY locations, but the punctuation is wildly different.

            We ended up getting it anyway, and of course you can switch keyboard layouts in software so characters match their glowing keycaps — but it turns out she’s internalized the US layout so much she never looks at the keys, making the backlighting kinda moot.

          2. Taper Wickel: even touch typists like lighted keyboards. The lighting doesn’t tell you where individual keys are; it just helps you find the home position by showing you where the whole keyboard is. I would suspect it would do just as well to have a lighted outline of the keyboard.

          3. I’d set the laptop’s keyboard to English in your OS, then either get some stickers, thin ones, or just rely on being able to touch type. I don’t look at the keys anyway, except for maybe the odd bit of punctuation.

            If you’ve got family who use your laptop you might need to maybe have a quick-swapping keyboard setting on your desktop (if your laptop has a desktop). I think Windows comes with one of those as an option. So you can switch it between it’s actual keys and QWERTY. Man, I’m enjoying typing “QWERTY” so much in this conversation, it’s so easy and seems like I’m being really productive!

            Then again most people’s laptops are extremely personal computers that only they use, so probably not a problem. Make the kids use the desktop, and keep it somewhere you can see it! People moaning about how the entire Internet ought to be made into their idea of what’s suitable for their kids piss me off, they’re the sort of person who causes that bother in lots of aspects of life. People who actually write to politicians. Which happens so rarely from individuals, that politicians give written letters massive credence. To whatever a bothersome lunatic thinks.

            The correct answer is to keep the computer where parents can see it, so then there’s no problem, is there? Or you can always throw the PC away and go back to letting Uncle TV raise the kids.

            I don’t mean Elliot personally here, of course.

          4. Jim, most keyboards come with a little bump on F and J, which my index fingers are telling me is where they should be laying. Given that, a touch typist could type in complete darkness, though it’s nice to have a screen of course to see your typos.

            A bedside laptop… nothing sounds more annoying to me. Unless your wife was ill and needed to stay in bed a lot. Computers are annoying, bed is supposed to be relaxing and pleasurable. I wouldn’t want a glowing annoyance machine near my bed, beeping and whirring away in it’s backlit glow.

            Taper, you say in the end she didn’t need the backlight anyway. But you could have got an external keyboard with a backlight, in US layout. Might have been better for bed. You could even get an external monitor and plug them both in. Or just get one of those cheap USB lights, they have a USB plug on one end, then a gooseneck and a few LEDs at their head, she could shine that on the keyboard, after finding somewhere to plug it in that doesn’t crowd her hands away from the keys.

            Actually my local Poundland used to sell loads of USB gadgets. Lights, 4-way hubs, SD card readers. Now they’re all gone, although replaced by an optical mouse, which for a pound isn’t bad. I wonder why they dropped the other electronic stuff though. RMB gone up in price? Some of it was really useful, I just remembered they also did Bluetooth adaptors for the PC. A quid, marvellous! Now they do a 2 quid and 5 quid range so I dunno why they can’t bring them back even if they cost more. They do 1 pound sex toys, for gods’ sake! Surely some LEDs on a USB isn’t asking too much!

            That said their employment practices are heinous, so I really should start buying somewhere else. Amazon sell lots of things! Oh, wait…

          5. Yes, of course I CAN find the home keys in total darkness, but it can take considerable sliding around of fingers until one of them identifies a bump. That’s why I way it would be a vast improvement, just to have the outline of the keyboard lit. Then I’d know exactly where to aim.

            As for Poundland, just be glad you’re not stuck with Dollar Tree. About all it’s good for is snack foods, foam core board, and picture frames. Though I DID find that the glass from a 10×12 .. er, 30×25 cm picture frame makes a serviceable bed for my filament printer.

          6. Greenaum: “Unless your wife was ill and needed to stay in bed a lot.” Got it in one guess.

            And BrightBlueJim is right that the backlighting cue as to where the keyboard is still is useful, even if the keycaps are redundant.

          7. As a teenager I found an old portable typewriter kicking around in my grandmother’s attic. We dusted it off and were surprised to see the keys were all solid black! No lettering at all. My mother explained the mystery when she got home from work – that typewriter was used in a required (!) typing class in her high school. The solid black keys were actually key “caps” which slipped over the factory keys. This was a teaching technique to aid in touch typing. Looking at the keys didn’t help if they were all black.

      2. At least with USB you can have both keyboards plugged in at the same time if you like. Hooray for that plucky little bus! And huzzah that they finally put on a connector that can’t be plugged in upside-down. But also boo for them using so many different kinds of plugs in the first place when they were trying to eliminate that problem! Changing USB mini to USB micro is still a pain in the arse for the stuff I bought back when mini was the standard. You can’t buy mini cables in shops any more.

    2. IMPORTANT QUESTION! Which only you, Finnius, can answer!

      Were you any faster on Dvorak?

      Secondarily, and less importantly, was it easier? Less fatiguing? Aside from the pain in the arse of switching back to QWERTY were there other problems? Given the choice, if you could magically switch the world’s keyboards, and typists, to Dvorak, would you? Would it be a big advantage or make much difference?

  5. There is a couple of reasons I haven’t switched to Dvorak, and likely never will. (unless it is suddenly the only reasonably priced keyboard on the market…)

    One reason is that Dvorak is optimized for English, only, it’s advantages over QWERTY falls flat on its face when switching to another language. Since I also write a fair bit in Swedish, a language optimized keyboard like Dvorak looses some of its appeal.

    Not to mention that Swedish Dvorak variants aren’t more than the original Dvorak layout, but with Å, Ä and Ö squeezed in arbitrarily in one corner or the other… And no, I don’t want a Swedish optimized Dvorak either, since then English is suddenly the problem.

    QWERTY isn’t really optimized for Swedish either…. Nor is it optimized for English, or any language.
    (QWERTY is partly optimized so that the typing arms in an old type writer doesn’t collide with each other and get jammed.)

    But since I can already type on a QWERTY keyboard faster than I am able to think up adequate sentences to write, something that makes the argument for “more speed” rather irrelevant. Honestly, I could have use any layout, but QWERTY is the one that is most easily obtained, and the one I am already almost innately familiar with.

    In my own situation, yes, I could switch to Dvorak and type a bit faster in English. (And likely a bit slower in Swedish.)
    Though, it will take time to learn and getting fast again with a new layout. That will be a lot of time to invest to get back to where I practically already is. Is it a worth while investment?

    Simple answer, No… That isn’t an interesting investment.

    Because the main reason I don’t use Dvorak is because I don’t need to write faster.
    I don’t work with copying texts, or writing news articles littered with spelling mistakes.

    When I write, I prioritize writing quality, and a higher typing speed won’t give you that. One needs time to formalize good sentences and explanations in one’s head for one to write with quality. This is regardless if one writes code, novels, technical explanations or just a boring old business related email.

    Don’t let your fingers outrun your thoughts.

    1. Ah, but the faster I type, the sooner I can stop typing and start re-reading what I wrote 3x-7x in order to convince myself that it says exactly what I want. For me, composition and editing happen almost entirely while reading, and then typing is the ‘other mode’, like PIO with a shamefully low bitrate.

      1. In that case, more speed would be desired.

        In my case, I think and type at the same time. So I prefer if the two are inline with each other.
        There are though times when one can think up a whole sentence sufficiently fast for one to not keep up in terms of writing, but that is more the exception than it is the rule in my case.

    2. Are letter frequencies in Swedish not similar to those in English? Or other Euro languages, or even other Latin alphabet languages? I know German uses “z” a lot more than English does. Were letter pairs etc ever measured for Swedish for the purpose of keyboard development?

      Also why does French use AZERTY? How much can that help them? Why move “a” from the home row?

      I have heard that the “jammed typewriter arms” explanation for QWERTY is actually a myth. Not sure where the real origin is, though I know the first typewriters (did you know you can type “typewriter” entirely with the top row?) were alphabetic, which is probably worse than QWERTY. Perhaps QWERTY was supposed to be more efficient?

      There were also typewriters that didn’t have arms. Including a pocket typewriter that used a dial with letters round it, like a Dymo labeller but with ink. I suppose there, alphabetic would be best. Theoretically you’d think to put common letter pairs near each other round the dial to minimise dial movement, but then the typist would spend forever trying to find each letter. We at least have the alphabet memorised.

      Since countries all have their own variations on QWERTY, and I don’t know why, are the home keys on a Swedish keyboard “B” “O” “R” “K” “!” ?

      1. “I have heard that the “jammed typewriter arms” explanation for QWERTY is actually a myth.”
        Yes and no. The “myth” part is the one that says they scrambled the keys to slow the typists down. That part is definitely wrong.
        However, it IS true that the arrangement was designed so that keys that are physically close to each other are avoided, and this is because with typebars arranged in an arc, keys close to each other take more time to get out of each others’ way.
        Or, that’s how the story goes. I see that “e” and “d” are immediately adjacent typebars, and these are obviously used together at the end of many words. Sort of. Looking at the post I just wrote, I only see seven instances of “ed”, not including this last one.
        It’s really true about people resisting change, though. The rows on keyboards were staggered so that each key’s bar slid in evenly-spaced slots. There is ZERO reason for staggered keys on computer keyboards, especially today, when most people haven’t used a mechanical typewriter in over 25 years.

  6. I just feel that I should point out that the qwerty layout was designed by Dvorak for Remington. It’s purpose was to even out the typing rhythm and prevent the hammers on the typewriter from sticking. Later Remington added springs to aid hammer return and Dvorak immediately suggested a new layout, but by that time Remington had shipped over 1 million typewriters and told him they weren’t going to change the layout now.

    1. Also, the sticking type bar explanation is regarded as a myth. If you examine the type basket on a typewriter there is come merit to the myth but it isn’t convincing as some letter combinations would be better separated further and the choices made wouldn’t be entirely optimal (that and the Sholes machine looked nothing like a modern typewriter, IIRC).

    2. This is essentially the story I recall, too. The qwerty layout was DESIGNED purposely to slow (right-handed) typists to get around mechanical slowness, so it too was engineered and not “simply” an accident.

      Also, with (real) modern day concerns for repetitive stress syndrome, why would anyone subject themselves to the additional detrimental effects of a Dvorak layout? It’s like the stiffness I have in my right mouse finger.

      1. Windows has an option under “Accessibility” to turn the numeric keypad into a mouse. The arrows (obviously) do the movement, and the other keys handle clicking, right-clicking, dragging, etc.

        I use it alongside a normal mouse when I need to get the pointer somewhere accurately. Having to move a mouse accurately is when I feel the most tension in my hands. You’re engaging the “towards” and “away” muscles together, in opposition, to fine-control your movement. Works well but I don’t think we evolved with efficient mouse-use in mind. Future generations will be born with USB ports in their necks so this problem will eventually go away.

        So I use the num pad to augment the mouse. You can choose to use it with Numlock on or off, that is, to replace either the number function with a mouse, or the PgUp etc functions. I made a load of little stickers that explained what each button did, just to remind me.

        It’s advice I’d give anyone who uses a mouse often. Finally there’s an option to have Shift and Ctrl slow down or speed up pointer movement.

        1. The Amiga had that natively. Hold down the left (or right?) Amiga-key and the numpad worked as a mouse. It was super handy, especially if you were using the mouse port for something else.

          I don’t know if there was a different option for A600 users who didn’t have a numpad.

          1. Pretty sure the ST did too, perhaps that was using Alt and arrows with Help and Undo as buttons. Had forgotten that. It’s “native” to Windows in the sense that it comes out of the box. You have to activate it, but since it takes over keys you might otherwise use, that’s a good thing, and no need to hold down an extra key, it’s either on or off, toggled with Numlock. You can disable it, and maybe it’s possible do unload the accessibility options from an installation, but I bet most Windows machines have it. Dead handy in all sorts of situations. Most of the time you can just fall back to keyboard shortcuts (or use them preferentially cos they’re fast) but occassionally it can be handy to have actual pointer control.

            Also handy for Cookie Clicker!

        2. A Ducky ‘One’ KB does this internally with Fn+NumLock but without speed control. I wish it had a QWERTY/Dvorak toggle (like the slightly more costly WASD brand) which would utterly prevent the aforementioned Microsoft Teams SNAFU… or “merely” some open source FW :(

          1. There’s one of the Arduinos (I think the Teensy?) can act as a USB HID device. Off the top of my head, a Ras Pi Zero can read a keyboard (since it needs to to operate it). This is just my horrible and clunky hack I thought up in 30 seconds, but you could have the Ras Pi output the key codes over it’s GPIO, have an Arduino read it through it’s GPIO, then spit out whatever codes you want.

            Would be cheap. It’s not elegant but you could put it in a box, nobody would ever know! Then you’d have a keyboard scancode convertor and you could program it however you liked.

            Or else have the Pi output PS/2 format keyboard signals, which is much slower and easier. Assuming it can do realtime, which I realise it’s crap at, but PS/2 is slow. Or else else, if the Ducky can output PS/2 (or AT) have the Arduino read that easily, by itself. So then you’d only need one of them. If PS/2 is still an option.

          2. In fact many AVR chips can power USB class devices– even the fairly well-aged, USB-officially-included parts like 32U4 and AT90USB1286 on the Teensy 2 and Teensy++ 2 do fine with the LUFA library (, while older parts need the V-USB library (, 2 I/O pins (one of which must be able to generate interrupts), and a fast enough main clock to be able to meet USB low-speed timing specs while bit-banging it.

            With something like a 328P and a 12MHz crystal you can make a PS/2->USB adapter and keep using your favorite old board. Bit-banging reception (emulating a PS/2 bus) on AVR isn’t terribly hard, and transmission is roughly the same– not that anyone needs to transmit PS/2 very often!

            AT90USBxx7 (vs. xx6) can do OTG (become a USB host) as well, which could begin to help KISSify some things, which might be nice, because …

            afaict, this Ducky is strictly a USB device. I sent along an official request for changing out whole keymaps or remapping numerous keys in a firmware update, but it’s probably not a priority.

  7. Inertia is a good word for it. I haven’t adopted or tried to adopt a Dvorak layout simply because one of those mystical beasts has never been seen in my vicinity. I have thought about it since the early ’80s. I have looked into them once or twice over the years but the cost, as mentioned previously, is prohibitive. Also as mentioned: every where else I go there is going to be a “qwerty” keyboard.

    I would tend to agree that a Dvorak keyboard is meaningless to languages outside of English. It would seem that every language group would need a keyboard optimized to their language structure. It would seem obvious that if you keep the most frequently used letters together and around the center of the keyboard, then working out to the least frequently used characters you would end up with a more efficient layout. You should also take into account accent marks.

    Taking a keyboard that was essentially designed for us in the USA and trying to make it work for another language by sprinkling language unique features around where you can find room for them seems a disservice to those language writers. And for those multi-lingual users I imagine a comfortable keyboard is hard to find/design.

    1. Yes, making a multi lingual keyboard is a pain to be fair.
      Not to mention that it will get rather unique, since the languages one group of people knows doesn’t need to be remotely the same as another group in the same city/country/region.

      And running about with a mostly custom keyboard is rarely useful. Though, with enough difference between the languages, a custom keyboard can be the most efficient solution, especially if one uses more than just two languages.

      Qwerty on the other hand has the advantage that it is used in the vast majority of the whole world. So regardless of where one goes, one will find a qwerty-ish keyboard. Sometimes with a couple of extra letters tossed in, other times with Y and Z switched, among other local variants. But 90% of the keys tends to be identical. (Though, there is the non latin keyboards, but they tend to have the qwert legend on them too, one just needs to switch the keyboard settings.)

      Switching to Dvorak kinda only makes sense if one almost exclusively uses English.

  8. 15 year Dvorak user here. Totally worth the change. Statistically it’s much faster, and subjectively, I can type so much faster than all y’all qwerty people.

    Passwords can be a pain. Mac has a hybrid Dvorak-Qwerty layout that’s real nice.
    Windows 10 – your initial log-in screen won’t let you change the language setting. You have to put it sleep, wake it back up, then you will be able to change the language.

    Took 14 years, but I finally found a keyboard that can output dvoark without a language setting on the computer.

    Coolermaster Masterkeys L — SGK-4035. Not in production anymore. You’ll have to buy one on Ebay, if I haven’t bought it first :p.

  9. The myth about typing on the home row being faster fails the straight face test. Look at your hands – most people have their fingertips over an arc, not a straight line. when you place your fingers on the home keys on a QWERTY keyboard, they’re actually laying on or next to all the vowels.

    It’s also easier to reach up towards the top row.

    1. As I understand it it’s less about the home row than it is about the total number of finger movements, not just key presses. Not that I’m about to switch to Dvorak or anything, I’d probably lose a week’s worth of typing.

      1. Yeah but sometimes it’s just easier to leave it as QWERTY then to remap everything. Some games don’t let you remap all controls (WHY???). I have a button on my keyboard to swap between QWERTY and DVORAK.
        The main issue is when you bring up a text box to chat then you have to switch to DVORAK.
        If it saves me time then I’ll remap but otherwise i generally leave it to QWERTY mappings ingame.

  10. If you can’t realize that people have differing priorities w.r.t. their investment in learning new technologies you’d probably be better off with a string and two tin cans rather than an Internet connection.

    1. It’s not about investment. It’s about standardization. Many, maybe even most people have to deal with keyboards on more than one device. What happens when ONE of the devices you use doesn’t have a Dvorak option?

      1. I helped a left-handed man back in the 90s with his computer maintenance from time to time. One day I discovered that I could swap the mouse buttons so he could use it naturally with his left hand. He immediately nixed that idea, saying that he had to use other computers and it would be worse swapping back and forth than just constantly dealing with the awkwardness (which he was already used to).

  11. I tried it Dvorak keyboard once, and I’ve got this conclusion. It is might be great for writers (or blog commenters), but for a me (engineer/programmer/admin) it was a poor choice because all the shortcuts I had already known, they just weren’t there.

    Then, more a philosophical matter, I don’t like tools that are too comfortable for me. I don’t want to be able to type faster than I am able to think.

  12. Despite being in my mid-forties and having used computers since I was a child, I never managed to learn to touch type Qwerty. I decided to learn to touch-type Dvorak on a Qwerty keyboard, it took a painful four weeks (lots of looking forward to typing numbers.)
    I’m now a lot faster on a Dvorak keyboard than I ever was on qwerty, but I’m not an especially fast typist ( score 1327).
    There are lots of international Dvorak variants, these are available on Linux, but require some effort to get onto Windows machines.
    Games are mostly configurable enough to use with Dvorak.

  13. How many people are still typing on physical keyboards these day’s?
    What’s the advantage of Dvorak if you type with a finger and half on the touch screen of your phone?
    What sort of efficiency benefit is left if you’re not a native english typist, but for example, Korean or Thai, those have nice curly characters. Or even languages as Dutch, French, German, etc distribution of letters is different (at least so I’m told).
    What about programmers? They still use keyboards relatively often, inclusive all those punctuation marks in whatever computer language they use, and after 3 letters of a variable a box pops up and adds the rest of a name for them.

    Why do the English use QWERTY, but the Belgians AZERTY? It seems a bunch of European countries have at least some characters in the wrong place.

    And how much of your time is actually spend typing compared to all the other things.

    And Oh, by the way, what is the current state of speach recognition and how many people directly dictate their PC?

    Vi is older then Edlin. Anyone here used Edlin on DOS? That was a horrible mess, and yet it was the only text editor that came on my PC. I tried it for a day or a week before I found something workable. Gosh, I wish I had a PC which used normal slashes in directory names back then instead of those backward things.

    But luckily we have computer software now that can obfuscate between any combination of [LF] and [CR] characters without even seeing them to start a new line. Even a Git can translate on checkout.

  14. “we’re suddenly stuck in our ways — for instance, the way we measure things in the US, or define daytime throughout the year. Inertia seems to be the only explanation for continuing to do things the old way, even when new and scientifically superior ways come along. But this isn’t about the metric system”

    Damned right because the metric system is definitely NOT “scientifically superior” to customary units as used in the USA.
    I pity those who don’t understand why the duodecimal was used for so long and why it is clearly superior.
    Guess the old “math is hard” excuse comes into play here.

    1. Duodecimal isn’t superior and it was never consistently used. It was favored by the aristocratic intelligentsia simply because it was hard – difficult to understand by the unschooled working class and a point of snobbery.

      It’s interesting to note that working class people who had to add up and subtract large numbers – such as dock workers – were commonly using all sorts of binary systems because it allows quickly summing up large numbers (abacus or on paper) as noted by Leibniz.

      From there it comes natural to divide things in to 1,4,8,16, 32 … etc. as in the fractions of an inch, instead of the duodecimal system which was mainly used by the upper classes in England. That’s why there’s a 16th of an inch, and 12 pence in a shilling.

      1. [quote]It’s interesting to note that working class people who had to add up and subtract large numbers – such as dock workers – were commonly using all sorts of binary systems because it allows quickly summing up large numbers (abacus or on paper) as noted by Leibniz[/quote]

        Do you have more info on this? I’m curious.

        1. I’ve heard it said that Leibniz got interested in binary numbers when watching German dock workers tally up inventories using a kind of binary system. A person can count up to 1023 with their fingers, write it down, and quickly add another number because binary addition has just two rules: 1+1=10 and 1+1+1 = 11. It’s a completely mechanical action you don’t even need to think about (which is why computers use binary). Some indigenous peoples have also had number systems partially based on binary, such as counting up to ten, then 20,40,80…

          One of the biggest reasons for binary instead of base-12 as a natural arithmetic system is that halving something with a ruler or compass is easy and accurate. Likewise for going up a scale – by measuring something and then adding as much more. Getting to 12 parts requires you to halve twice and then split into thirds, which gets complex and tedious to do. If you just keep halving and halving, you’ll get to 16th parts instead.

          One old definition of a foot for example calls for to line up 16 men with their feet touching, measure it up, and then divide by 16. That’s easy enough to do with a piece of string with no mathematics whatsoever. Why then is the foot divided to 12 inches instead of 16? That’s because by royal decree the inch is made up of “3 barly cornes dry and rounde” and the foot by then is 36 barley corns. The system goes up a scale by multiplying with 3, 12, 3, 12… or at least it should, but it actually goes 3, 12, 3, 11 because the mile is a little bit shorter than it should be…

          1. Sorry, I skipped a bit. It goes 3,2,2,3,3,2… because between an inch and a foot is also a stick and a hand – but after yard and fathom it suddenly jumps up by 11 to a chain, then by 10 to a furlong, and then by 8 to a mile.

            Doesn’t make much sense, but there you have it. The only base-12 jump there ever was, was between the inch and the foot – because we stopped using the intermediate units a long time ago.

    1. +1
      Is the original something like this? “How can you tell someone is an Arch Linux user? They already told you.” TBH it was kinda like that for a while with me and …this other distro.

  15. I’m probably one of the few that actually use Dvorak exclusively. I had done Qwerty for over 25 years but had a ton of carpal tunnel issues. My doctor suggested voice recognition but I write a lot of somewhat confidential emails in my open concept office. I also liked the idea of faster typing, so I decided to give Dvorak a shot.

    One December when the office slowed down for a few weeks, I made the change. I printed off a Dvorak layout for reference and also spent the $2 to get English keyboard stickers. Hint. Even though they are Qwerty, you can stick them on any key you like. I also switched my phone keyboard and while that didn’t help with muscle memory, it at least helped me visually memorize the keyboard. For me, I had to do 100% Dvorak to make it stick.

    Over 3 years later, I would never go back. My wrists rarely every have any pain where before I wore braces to bed every night. Hot keys were a little hard to break. Autocorrect and google struggle with typos. My wife hates when I’ve been using the computer but at least knows how to switch the keyboard. I also removed the stickers since I have the layout memorized. I can still do qwerty if I have to, it just takes a few gradual minutes to make the layout change in my head.

    To all the Qwerty holdouts – Why do something because everyone else does? This is like listening to music with heaphones. No one will even know unless you tell them. They probably also won’t care. Give it a shot.

    1. Why do something because everyone else does? Because if I have to use another machine or environment that most likely does not have Dvorak, I don’t have to struggle. And because that’s what I and most others have already learned, so to learn something new (as well as undo what has already been learned) for such a small gain is not practical.

      Your headphone analogy doesn’t hold up if your headphones were specifically made to play music that was recorded in a special way that only these special headphones can play back. Now your music collection is only useful to YOU. You also can’t play your music anywhere else to listen, say on a friend’s music system, unless you have your special headphones on you.

      You’re obviously more than willing to put up with the inconveniences – which is great for YOU. Most others are not so willing.

  16. I use the Neo 2 Keyboard Layout at work (,
    don’t regret it as I do a lot of programming and typing,
    and at home the QWERTY(Z), as my wife cannot use the Neo 2,
    so I keep in practice with both layouts.

    Neo 2 seems for me more advanced than the dvorak as it matches more the actual programming typing.

  17. A few years ago I spent a month experimenting on different layouts, and analyzing what would be the best for my native language. The tool at is great for that. Dvorak, Colemak, Minimak, National keyboard for my language made during the 1950’s (which nobody uses), my own layouts…

    In the end, I realized my muscle memory is too strong, and I just mix between QWERTZ (yeah, my native language keyboard starts from the German layout), and Minimak-4.

    1. I’m getting consistently better results for colemak because of the emphasis on placing letters on the home row, but when I look at the letter frequencies of the text I’m putting in, it consistently places the letters over an arc where my fingers would actually be when I place my hands over a qwerty keyboard.

  18. As a programmer, some of the most used key combinations are Ctrl with A, X, C, V, S, Z, and Tab, always with one hand and often the other hand on mouse or cursor keys. Dvorak would not allow me to do any of that.

  19. I learned QWERTY touch typing, then as a teenager I learned Dvorak (without re-labelling keys). The first hour was excruciatingly slow, and then the next couple days were faster but the mental dissonance was painful! But after a week, it was natural. After a year I learned I could switch back and forth effortlessly, like to use the QWERTY keyboards at highschool. I don’t think it made me any faster (about 120wpm on either), but Dvorak is definitely *much* more comfortable to type. It’s a really significant improvement, in my opinion. I’d never go back to QWERTY.

    Age 36, one of my friends jokingly challenged me to learn Colemak. It was basically the same experience I had as a teen learning Dvorak, and after a week I was up to speed with Colemak. Subjectively, Colemak feels as good as Dvorak. And it is *much* easier to learn, especially because punctuation doesn’t move around the way it does with Dvorak.

    I noticed, I lost the ability to switch back to QWERTY. So I embarked on a mind-bending trip of switching between Dvorak and Colemak every month. I made it 4 months in (Colemak -> Dvorak -> Colemak -> Dvorak) and said screw it, and I’ve been happily using Dvorak ever since. It only got a little easier to switch each time. Even though I had just typed Dvorak a month earlier, switch back took at least a few days.

    As mentioned above, passwords are the big nuissance during a transition period. Most of the time, especially when programming, I’m not actually typing at a sustained speed so 20wpm isn’t that big a handicap. I think the transition period is a benefit, in that you get to do something new. Isn’t it great to have a new experience? You know, like yoga.

  20. I’ve had a similar experience to most of the other posters.
    I learnt DVORAK and have been using it for work for the last 8 years.
    I would never recommend anyone else learn it.

    Soo many programs have shortcut keys mapped around the QWERTY layout (Ctrl C is now a 2handed exercise with DVORAK).

    It’s not just other people’s computers, it’s phones and tablets, where the muscle memory from DVORAK doesn’t transfer, and you need to learn DVORAK again.

  21. I’ve been a transcriptionist for over a decade.

    At the age of 38, I switched from QWERTY to Dvorak because of intense hand pain. QWERTY hurt me.
    Dvorak’s layout is better for health and productivity. His work was not in vain.

    Dvorak is crazy more efficient and way less painful. I’m typing 110+ wpm, with no hand strain after hours and hours of typing. (I transcribe around 18,000 words a day.) If it wasn’t for Dvorak’s research and work, I couldn’t do the job I’ve been doing. My anatomy wouldn’t allow it.

    Other than the stupid reasoning of, ‘Well, that’s the way it’s always been done,’ or, ‘Well, it’s what everybody else uses,’ there are zero good logical reasons to use QWERTY.

    All QWERTY does is hurt people and decreases productivity.

    I don’t care about the keyboard shortcuts because there’s a gazillion different workarounds that make that point moot.

    But he was right — “I’m tired of trying to do something worthwhile for the human race. They simply don’t want to change!”

    Life is just one grand experiment. Why get so attached to things that don’t make any sense?

    1. Any change in pattern will alleviate pain from repetitive stress injury, it doesn’t matter whether you go from qwerty to dvorak, or from dvorak to qwerty after 20 years of wearing yourself out on one. Your pains will return eventually.

      Another thing that’s going on is a version of the Hawthorne effect, where people who consciously change their habits will improve their performance even if the change itself was neutral. The change forces self-observation and analysis, which improves performance. For example, a person who changes their keyboard layout may also start to keep closer attention to their fatigue and keep more frequent breaks, which then leads to better performance and the apparent confirmation that the change was effective. It was, but not for the assumed reasons.

      The latter trick is commonly used by fraudsters selling things like fuel-saving additives. The person is convinced that adding a spoonful of acetone to your fuel helps the engine somehow, because they’re consciously monitoring their fuel consumption and unconsciously adopting better driving habits.

  22. I already find it a major pain when forced to switch between International layouts and German or French. And when programming or writing, typing speed isn’t a bottle neck for me. Thinking is. I can always use a printer for replication.

    Of course it has niche uses in certain professions.

    The good thing is, there will always be vocal Esperanto speaking hipsters making sure the technology won’t be forgotten.

  23. I used Dvorak for about a year, then switched back. I was pretty committed; I applied decals with the new key layout on my laptop keyboard. When you use another computer though, it’s terribly difficult to use qwerty. You can dig into a computer’s setting but it takes time and it’s definitely strange if it is another person’s own computer. Just the fact that there’s any standard keyboard layout at all provides most of the benefit; confirming has its benefits. The same supplies to car pedals – before an early 20th century Cadillac, they were all over the place. Might there be another pedal, gear layout that’s better? Perhaps – but I’m pretty sure it’s for the best that we generally can drive any car with little difficulty.

  24. Shortly after college (late 90s), I started to develop wrist pain while employed as a programmer. Went through all the medical diagnostics, with a potential diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Started meds, switched to a “natural” (split) keyboard, none of it helped. Looking to avoid surgery, I asked around, and someone in my local LUG suggested switching to the Dvorak layout.

    It took some time to learn and build muscle memory. I even purchased stickers to put on the keyboard that had primary/secondary Dvorak/QWERTY layouts. After I finally trained myself to touch-type Dvorak, all wrist pain disappeared. I could use a “natural” or even a “standard” keyboard, without wanting to chop off my hands.

    These days, I find if I touch type, like in this response, I do it Dvorak. If I look at the keyboard, I revert to the printed keys, aka QWERTY.

    This actually comes in a little bit handy, because I’ve discovered that while Win10 and Linux both respect the logged-in user’s keyboard mapping for entering passwords from a lock screen, OSX/macOS reverts to the system default when the screen is locked. It’s actually a little annoying, since I don’t have admin privs on my work MBP to change the system default.

    But, aside from that, the only real drawback to going Dvorak is that the years of emacs muscle memory I developed spending hundreds of hours writing code in college needs to be tweaked if I try to program now.

  25. It made me think: since ’80 it was known that soon everybody will have computer. In ’90 we were sure more and more work and private life will relay on computers. Ance 2000 started to wind up mobile computers became common and there was no escape. In 2020 touchtyping is still not even discussed to be a standard skill taught at schools.

  26. You mean like, incursive…

    What amazes me, how did Elliot Willias have the forsight to understand that an OffTopic non-hack bio would morph into an OnTopic about kybds… and we were too daft to see his cleverness even when he, no doubt with excrutiating pain, explained it to us so off-handedly. All hail the Elliot –

  27. I learned to use the Dvorak keyboard for a few years in my college days. I liked it alot. The issue I ran into is I use so many computers over 4 at home and more than that at work that I cannot switch them all to Dvorak and expect my QWERTY coworkers not to freak out when the keyboard isn’t typing the letters the keyboard said. Another thing was small touch screens like the IPAD had a hard time with the keystrokes coming in fast in the dvorak layout, and seemed to benefit from the slower QWERTY layout (in my opinion). I think the time for Dvorak to take over was the 1980’s when computer typing took over typewriters. If IBM, Apple, or Microsoft had promoted it, it would be more mainstream. Once people get set in their ways it is hard to change. Same thing happened to musical instruments. The heckel bassoon has simplified fingerings over the buffet bassoon, but established musicians would not give it a chance, and it took time for the heckel to be used.

  28. I switched to Dvorak 18 years ago, and I will never go back to Qwerty if I can help it. At the time, I physically swapped all the keycaps on my Macbook, and changed the layout in software. It took me about a month to catch up to my qwerty speed and now I can type about as fast as I can think, and my hands don’t hurt. I’m a network engineer and also do some development, so I do quite a bit of typing. I do have as switchable keyboard on my desk, mostly for the convenience of others, but for every other system I work on, I just switch the keyboard layout. This does occasionally annoy my co-workers if I forget to change it back, but it is so easy to do on Unix, Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and can even be done on iOS. My daughter read this article and decided that she now wants to start learning dvorak, since she doesn’t really have proficiency in either.

    I exclusively touch type now, so I don’t really care what the key caps say. When I wear this keyboard out, I will probably get one with the blank keycaps. Can I type efficiently on qwerty? No, not very well, but my cursive is also limited and I never did learn short-hand. Does this affect me in any meaningful way? No, not really.

    1. This is why, as a lefty, I made a conscious effort to learn on a right-handed guitar. Any advantage I got from flipping my strings was negated as soon as I wanted to borrow a guitar. Plus the power chords are right there!

  29. Wow, what a bunch of inflexible people! The majority of responses seemed to be along the lines of, “I’ve never tried Dvorak, but I already hate it because of these assumptions.”

    I converted to Dvorak somewhere around 1985, as a research project for Tektronix Computer Research Laboratories. In a “cold turkey” switch, I found that I got my typing speed back after about two weeks of Dvorak-only, and after four weeks, I was about 10% faster.

    But speed is not the thing. My hands used to ache after a hard day of coding or writing on the Sholes keyboard. But not at all after a long day on Dvorak!

    I wonder how many case of carpal tunnel would “go away” if everyone were using Dvorak, and what would be the impact on health care costs.

    Almost all computers make it very easy to switch between the two, although it appears that the latest version of Winblows won’t allow you to install a different keyboard layout unless you have special privileges. I work as a substitute librarian in the local school system, and have to endure the Sholes keyboard when I sub. Luckily, that doesn’t involve enough typing as to induce carpal tunnel.

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