QWERTY vs. Dvorak

Readers of this blog fiercely debated the validity of the QWERTY keyboard story a few months back. As the legend goes, Christopher Sholes engineered the QWERTY layout that is still in use today in order to slow typists down and prevent key jams. One commenter (ludvig) pointed to this 1996 article from Reason magazine by Stan Liebowitz and Stephen E. Margolis that “put the torch to the QWERTY myth.” In the article, Liebowitz and Margolis argue that the persistence of the QWERTY myth undermines the theory of efficient markets, since it is usually used as an example of luck winning out over innovation:

The typewriter keyboard is central to this literature [against market efficiency] because it appears to be the single best example where luck caused an inferior product to defeat a demonstrably superior product. It is an often repeated story that is generally believed to be true. Interestingly, the typewriter story, though charming, is also false.

But then another commenter (saharvetes) linked to this furious letter to the editor that appeared in the next issue of Reason. Randy Cassingham, who wrote the letter, also wrote a book called The Dvorak Keyboard in 1986. Dvorak is a layout invented after QWERTY by Dr. August Dvorak that minimizes finger movement by prioritizing letters that are used more often (like vowels), allowing for greater speed and less chance of carpal tunnel. Cassingham claims that Liebowitz and Margolis reported biased research that “proved” QWERTY’s superior efficiency in order to disprove the myth, mainly relying on the research of a man who hated Dr. Dvorak and destroyed his own data so that his findings couldn’t be verified.

If you feel like going down the rabbit hole of this old feud, check it out. And if you decide that Dvorak *is* the board to beat, here’s a wikiHow that will show you how to switch your keyboard and operating system. According to the Wiki entry, you’ll need a month of training with the new Dvorak layout to get up to your old typing speed and the transition period may be initially painful, because you’ll be using new muscles. And don’t even think about using a QWERTY keyboard during your Dvorak training. You’ll only undo all the progress you’ve made.

My question: Is there anyone who cares enough about a few extra words-per-minute who would be willing to give up the ability to type for a whole month? Learning the Rubik’s cube or baking a kitty litter cake might be time better spent.

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COMMENTS: 108


  1. JanneM says:

    Dvorak is counterproductive in quite a few cases. As you note, the layout is optimized for the letter frequencies. But those frequencies change depending on the language, so you need a separate – largely different – layout for every language. A layout optimized for one language would be less optimal for another language than Qwerty.

    And that means that if you use more than one language (I use three regularly), you need to learn one separate layout for each one. And, of course, remember to switch layout every time you change the language you happen to type in at the moment.

    And it means that would Dvorak actually become widespread, you’d come to public internet access points or computers in hotels, airports and wherever, and be faced with a layout that has nothing in common with the one your’re used to, rather than the same basic layout with a few frills altered you have now.

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    • Dana Albert says:

      JanneM, you make a pretty good point, but your point doesn’t apply to everybody. For typing in English, I can tell you that Dvorak is wonderful. I switched in 2002 and my hands are much happier now. Both my kids learned on Dvorak, and their teachers (and school IT folks) have been very accommodating. I have not had any real problems typing on public computers in QWERTY mode … I’m just a bit slower there. If you’re interested in more info, here’s a blog post I wrote on this topic: http://www.albertnet.us/2009/06/case-for-dvorak.html.

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  2. JanneM says:

    Dvorak is counterproductive in quite a few cases. As you note, the layout is optimized for the letter frequencies. But those frequencies change depending on the language, so you need a separate – largely different – layout for every language. A layout optimized for one language would be less optimal for another language than Qwerty.

    And that means that if you use more than one language (I use three regularly), you need to learn one separate layout for each one. And, of course, remember to switch layout every time you change the language you happen to type in at the moment.

    And it means that would Dvorak actually become widespread, you’d come to public internet access points or computers in hotels, airports and wherever, and be faced with a layout that has nothing in common with the one your’re used to, rather than the same basic layout with a few frills altered you have now.

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  3. econ2econ says:

    I just don’t see this having widespread adoption unless schools start teaching the Dvorak keyboard instead of the QWERTY (assuming most people first learn proper typing in school). I didn’t find it on first glance of the links, but does it show anywhere the difference in typing speed for someone who once used QWERTY and has now mastered Dvorak?

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  4. econ2econ says:

    I just don’t see this having widespread adoption unless schools start teaching the Dvorak keyboard instead of the QWERTY (assuming most people first learn proper typing in school). I didn’t find it on first glance of the links, but does it show anywhere the difference in typing speed for someone who once used QWERTY and has now mastered Dvorak?

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  5. SAMIam says:

    The reported benefits of Dvorak over QWERTY are not limited to a few words per minute. Dvorak proponents claim their layout reduces repetitive stress disorder type injuries including sore hands and the like. For many that my make the transition worth it.

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  6. SAMIam says:

    The reported benefits of Dvorak over QWERTY are not limited to a few words per minute. Dvorak proponents claim their layout reduces repetitive stress disorder type injuries including sore hands and the like. For many that my make the transition worth it.

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  7. I’m proficient with both Qwerty and Dvorak.

    Two main non-obvious advantages of Qwerty are that 1) the rest of the world uses Qwerty so using different computer doesn’t cause any confusion 2) many keyboard shortcuts and typical commands were designed with Qwerty in mind. Typing ‘ls’ or typical emacs keyboard shortcuts can be a pain in Dvorak.

    However, Dvorak is indeed very comfortable and fast for typing large amounts of English text.

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  8. I’m proficient with both Qwerty and Dvorak.

    Two main non-obvious advantages of Qwerty are that 1) the rest of the world uses Qwerty so using different computer doesn’t cause any confusion 2) many keyboard shortcuts and typical commands were designed with Qwerty in mind. Typing ‘ls’ or typical emacs keyboard shortcuts can be a pain in Dvorak.

    However, Dvorak is indeed very comfortable and fast for typing large amounts of English text.

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  9. jcgoodchild says:

    A few comments actually –
    First, I’ve heard that the productivity benefits of changing to Dvorak would save companies “millions” although that of course is although theoretical money.

    Another story I’ve heard in regards to luck creating an “inferior product” is with gasoline engines on cars. I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch, but someone once told me that cars originally ran on steam engines. In a race in Europe, every car in the pack was a steam engine car, except for the race’s winner — a gasoline powered car — which apparently won in a fluke. As a result, every automotive engineer pursued gasoline engines, which has of course led to our oil dependence and poor environmentalism.

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  10. jcgoodchild says:

    A few comments actually —
    First, I’ve heard that the productivity benefits of changing to Dvorak would save companies “millions” although that of course is although theoretical money.

    Another story I’ve heard in regards to luck creating an “inferior product” is with gasoline engines on cars. I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch, but someone once told me that cars originally ran on steam engines. In a race in Europe, every car in the pack was a steam engine car, except for the race’s winner — a gasoline powered car — which apparently won in a fluke. As a result, every automotive engineer pursued gasoline engines, which has of course led to our oil dependence and poor environmentalism.

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  11. amitlu says:

    @2 – I switched over a couple years back. I typed around 70 words per minute using QWERTY, and I’ve been able to hit around 90 using Dvorak. The majority of the speed increase is in longer words, because having to bounce between hands for vowels and consonants gets more efficient the more you do it, I think.

    It took me about a month to get going, and the first week or so actually WAS painful. You end up using your hands a lot more than your wrists, and you go side to side more than up and down.

    I actually got into it because I was curious how muscle memory was related to language, and whether or not typing was a certain type of language, too. I figured a lot of basic speech is training your mouth to make certain sounds in succession to form words. What I noticed when learning Dvorak was your fingers go through the same type of training. The first day or two, I was hunting around the keyboard for the right letters, but once I started getting routine groups of letters (“ing,” “.com,” “the,” “wh,” etc.), I really sped up. The remaining three weeks or so was just getting the intricacies down.

    I’ve switched back and forth in the past few years. It takes me a couple days to get my “fluency” back; longer with QWERTY than Dvorak, funnily enough.

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  12. amitlu says:

    @2 – I switched over a couple years back. I typed around 70 words per minute using QWERTY, and I’ve been able to hit around 90 using Dvorak. The majority of the speed increase is in longer words, because having to bounce between hands for vowels and consonants gets more efficient the more you do it, I think.

    It took me about a month to get going, and the first week or so actually WAS painful. You end up using your hands a lot more than your wrists, and you go side to side more than up and down.

    I actually got into it because I was curious how muscle memory was related to language, and whether or not typing was a certain type of language, too. I figured a lot of basic speech is training your mouth to make certain sounds in succession to form words. What I noticed when learning Dvorak was your fingers go through the same type of training. The first day or two, I was hunting around the keyboard for the right letters, but once I started getting routine groups of letters (“ing,” “.com,” “the,” “wh,” etc.), I really sped up. The remaining three weeks or so was just getting the intricacies down.

    I’ve switched back and forth in the past few years. It takes me a couple days to get my “fluency” back; longer with QWERTY than Dvorak, funnily enough.

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  13. pvenable says:

    I took the Dvorak plunge about a year ago. As others have said, the first month was painful, but now I never want to go back. My primary motive for switching was not speed (though that is a nice benefit) but reduced risk of repetitive stress injury (i.e. my wrists were bothering me). So I simultaneously switched to a contoured keyboard and the Dvorak layout. (more details on my blog)

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  14. pvenable says:

    I took the Dvorak plunge about a year ago. As others have said, the first month was painful, but now I never want to go back. My primary motive for switching was not speed (though that is a nice benefit) but reduced risk of repetitive stress injury (i.e. my wrists were bothering me). So I simultaneously switched to a contoured keyboard and the Dvorak layout. (more details on my blog)

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  15. jonathank says:

    I switched many years ago because it reduces the amount of finger travel. I can still type in Qwerty. Switching back and forth is not seamless, but if I need to use a Qwerty keyboard I rapidly become proficient. One trick: I use Qwerty shortcuts because that keeps the Qwerty locations fresh in my head.

    Why? As noted above, to reduce pain from too much typing. Also to see how long it would take, what it would feel like to learn a new version of an old skill and how well it would work versus Qwerty. Answers were: took a fairly long time to get very fast, felt very weird like my mind was being bent, and it works very, very well for both speed and reduced strain.

    The mind bending feeling was worth the effort. It’s rare one gets an opportunity to subject one’s self to an experiment like this. Comparables are probably more hard-wired: changing hands for throwing or writing, changing legs for kicking a soccer ball.

    I was probably drawn to trying Dvorak because I was born left-handed and was forced by an accident to switch. I can still write leftie and do many things leftie and I know that my brain and my body respond differently when things are done by one side or the other. Some “things” are physical: for example, my eyes are set up as a left-hander with a dominant right eye, so I was a natural left-handed batter. Some “things” are hard to quantify, as in the way my writing content changes when I use my left hand.

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  16. jonathank says:

    I switched many years ago because it reduces the amount of finger travel. I can still type in Qwerty. Switching back and forth is not seamless, but if I need to use a Qwerty keyboard I rapidly become proficient. One trick: I use Qwerty shortcuts because that keeps the Qwerty locations fresh in my head.

    Why? As noted above, to reduce pain from too much typing. Also to see how long it would take, what it would feel like to learn a new version of an old skill and how well it would work versus Qwerty. Answers were: took a fairly long time to get very fast, felt very weird like my mind was being bent, and it works very, very well for both speed and reduced strain.

    The mind bending feeling was worth the effort. It’s rare one gets an opportunity to subject one’s self to an experiment like this. Comparables are probably more hard-wired: changing hands for throwing or writing, changing legs for kicking a soccer ball.

    I was probably drawn to trying Dvorak because I was born left-handed and was forced by an accident to switch. I can still write leftie and do many things leftie and I know that my brain and my body respond differently when things are done by one side or the other. Some “things” are physical: for example, my eyes are set up as a left-hander with a dominant right eye, so I was a natural left-handed batter. Some “things” are hard to quantify, as in the way my writing content changes when I use my left hand.

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  17. JanneM says:

    One thing – the benefit of Dvorak over Qwerty is when _touch_typing_. Something most people never learn. And if you hunt-and-peck, or type at a decent speed with your own, non-standard non-formal finger stance you just won’t see much of an improvement in either speed or comfort, and you’ll still have all the drawbacks of a nonstandard keyboard.

    If you want to increase productivity, don’t change to Dvorak. Just learn to touch type at all; that’s where the big savings could come from.

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  18. JanneM says:

    One thing – the benefit of Dvorak over Qwerty is when _touch_typing_. Something most people never learn. And if you hunt-and-peck, or type at a decent speed with your own, non-standard non-formal finger stance you just won’t see much of an improvement in either speed or comfort, and you’ll still have all the drawbacks of a nonstandard keyboard.

    If you want to increase productivity, don’t change to Dvorak. Just learn to touch type at all; that’s where the big savings could come from.

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  19. goinglikesixty says:

    Very interesting discussion.
    JanneM: I think most people who spend a lot of time on keyboards are touch typists.

    As a country we never did fully adopt the metric system.
    The educational system would fully adopt the Dvorak keyboard.

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  20. goinglikesixty says:

    Very interesting discussion.
    JanneM: I think most people who spend a lot of time on keyboards are touch typists.

    As a country we never did fully adopt the metric system.
    The educational system would fully adopt the Dvorak keyboard.

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  21. jezsik says:

    Luck winning out over innovation? I know another keyboard example, the various ergonomic keyboards. A standard keyboard is not designed with the human in mind but countless millions of identical devices were introduced. As soon as a contoured keyboard came out, I was sure people would flock to it, but no. Sure, it’s a bit odd at first, but it’s so much easier on your wrist and hand. Why not change to the superior form? Why not indeed!

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  22. jezsik says:

    Luck winning out over innovation? I know another keyboard example, the various ergonomic keyboards. A standard keyboard is not designed with the human in mind but countless millions of identical devices were introduced. As soon as a contoured keyboard came out, I was sure people would flock to it, but no. Sure, it’s a bit odd at first, but it’s so much easier on your wrist and hand. Why not change to the superior form? Why not indeed!

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  23. Josh Millard says:

    Futurist speculation: I don’t think we’ll see any mainstream adoption of a non-Qwerty layout until keyboard devices start coming with some sort of dynamic keycap displays standard.

    I think the ubiquitousness of Qwerty is insurmountable under the current circumstances, essentially: the life cycle of the keyboard loop is a long one, and conditions have to be right to make it worth it to the status quo to endure a whole life cycle to make a mainstream change. That’s a lot to ask of the general computing public, and there’s no way to accomplish this with fixed-layout devices without thrusting an unfamiliar layout in the face of the computing public.

    (I know that keyboard configurations can be changed with relative ease, but the physical keyboards cannot be: for most folks, the folks who don’t know DVORAK from Adam and aren’t going to learn a new layout recreationally, the keycaps are the layout. It’s not even Qwerty, in the layout-discussion sense; it’s just How Keyboard Are. So, for the moment, a Qwerty-capped keyboard is a Qwerty keyboard, period.)

    Qwerty gets taught because Qwerty is how the keyboards in schools are shipped, how home computers come set up, how what electric typewriters still get sold are configured. It’s what the computer at work, and at the library, and at the internet cafe uses. Using DVORAK, or any other layout, in the wild? Hard. Hard things like that aren’t going to just happen without some tremendous incentive. People won’t want to learn it, manufacturers won’t want to sell it, workplaces won’t want to install it.

    So how do you get that new layout out there?

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  24. Josh Millard says:

    Futurist speculation: I don’t think we’ll see any mainstream adoption of a non-Qwerty layout until keyboard devices start coming with some sort of dynamic keycap displays standard.

    I think the ubiquitousness of Qwerty is insurmountable under the current circumstances, essentially: the life cycle of the keyboard loop is a long one, and conditions have to be right to make it worth it to the status quo to endure a whole life cycle to make a mainstream change. That’s a lot to ask of the general computing public, and there’s no way to accomplish this with fixed-layout devices without thrusting an unfamiliar layout in the face of the computing public.

    (I know that keyboard configurations can be changed with relative ease, but the physical keyboards cannot be: for most folks, the folks who don’t know DVORAK from Adam and aren’t going to learn a new layout recreationally, the keycaps are the layout. It’s not even Qwerty, in the layout-discussion sense; it’s just How Keyboard Are. So, for the moment, a Qwerty-capped keyboard is a Qwerty keyboard, period.)

    Qwerty gets taught because Qwerty is how the keyboards in schools are shipped, how home computers come set up, how what electric typewriters still get sold are configured. It’s what the computer at work, and at the library, and at the internet cafe uses. Using DVORAK, or any other layout, in the wild? Hard. Hard things like that aren’t going to just happen without some tremendous incentive. People won’t want to learn it, manufacturers won’t want to sell it, workplaces won’t want to install it.

    So how do you get that new layout out there?

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  25. procombodia says:

    Learning to touch-type is easily the most effective thing I’ve ever done to boost productivity. Easily.

    I’ve never understood why employers don’t just insist on staff learning it. It’s simple – if a little like hard work – and the training is straightforward. Looking through the CEO’s goldfish bowl, it often looks as though we could be saving £20k per year, there and then with a little basic computer literacy training.

    However, why don’t more people use those machines that stenographers use? They seem like the fastest option possible.

    Or, why did the Microwriter die out – 80′s gizmo as endorsed by Douglas Adams (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwriter)?

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  26. procombodia says:

    Learning to touch-type is easily the most effective thing I’ve ever done to boost productivity. Easily.

    I’ve never understood why employers don’t just insist on staff learning it. It’s simple – if a little like hard work – and the training is straightforward. Looking through the CEO’s goldfish bowl, it often looks as though we could be saving ?20k per year, there and then with a little basic computer literacy training.

    However, why don’t more people use those machines that stenographers use? They seem like the fastest option possible.

    Or, why did the Microwriter die out – 80′s gizmo as endorsed by Douglas Adams (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwriter)?

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  27. jreighley says:

    I have used the Dvorak before, and I am certain that my brain has plenty of room for both Dvorak and Qwerty.

    I never did switch over for good because I couldn’t find a Dvorak kb for a reasonable price. I tried moving all of the keys on a spare qwerty, but the f and the j were keyed so they had to go in their appointed spots. After using my hacked keyboard for a few days, I was able to type on it at a reasonable rate, but not at my qwerty speed. I could switch back without much effort.

    It is really fun to sneak into some unsuspecting person’s computer and switch the keyboard map. They get very confused, and the helpdesk techs think they are crazy.

    The benefits are too marginal for the average person to take the effort. That might be different if I could try out 20 dollar dvorak keyboard.

    Keyboards are pretty inefficient anyway. I suspect we will find something better in the next few years.

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  28. jreighley says:

    I have used the Dvorak before, and I am certain that my brain has plenty of room for both Dvorak and Qwerty.

    I never did switch over for good because I couldn’t find a Dvorak kb for a reasonable price. I tried moving all of the keys on a spare qwerty, but the f and the j were keyed so they had to go in their appointed spots. After using my hacked keyboard for a few days, I was able to type on it at a reasonable rate, but not at my qwerty speed. I could switch back without much effort.

    It is really fun to sneak into some unsuspecting person’s computer and switch the keyboard map. They get very confused, and the helpdesk techs think they are crazy.

    The benefits are too marginal for the average person to take the effort. That might be different if I could try out 20 dollar dvorak keyboard.

    Keyboards are pretty inefficient anyway. I suspect we will find something better in the next few years.

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  29. debiannewbie says:

    It does not take a month. It took me 2 or 3 days to be able to type; maybe a week to type at a normal speed. Maybe it helped that I used a program to teach me.

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  30. debiannewbie says:

    It does not take a month. It took me 2 or 3 days to be able to type; maybe a week to type at a normal speed. Maybe it helped that I used a program to teach me.

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  31. Mack says:

    It seems to me that once you’ve mastered touch-typing a la Dvorak, it shouldn’t matter how the keys themselves are arranged.

    It’s easy to tell the computer it has a Dvorak keyboard even when it doesn’t — just never look down and you’re golden.

    Interesting that some WWII coding was done using a similar technique: touch typing on scrambled keyboards. Once you’ve internalized the pattern, muscle memory takes over and the keys could be blank for all you care.

    And just so it’s never forgotten — blowhard columnist John Dvorak had nothing to do with this invention. (-:

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  32. Mack says:

    It seems to me that once you’ve mastered touch-typing a la Dvorak, it shouldn’t matter how the keys themselves are arranged.

    It’s easy to tell the computer it has a Dvorak keyboard even when it doesn’t — just never look down and you’re golden.

    Interesting that some WWII coding was done using a similar technique: touch typing on scrambled keyboards. Once you’ve internalized the pattern, muscle memory takes over and the keys could be blank for all you care.

    And just so it’s never forgotten — blowhard columnist John Dvorak had nothing to do with this invention. (-:

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  33. frankenduf says:

    isn’t this gonna be obsolete when speech recognition software becomes efficient?

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  34. frankenduf says:

    isn’t this gonna be obsolete when speech recognition software becomes efficient?

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  35. Crosbie says:

    If you ever try a French keyboard then just a few letters out of place, not to say umpteen punctuation keys, make typing a pain.

    Even US/UK differences are irritating.

    Even a random distribution standardised would be better than deviation. For that matter, significant deviation is probably better than slight, because you then HAVE to look at the keys. Thus, I’d rather use US Qwerty and Dvorak, than 55 subtly different Qwerty keyboards.

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  36. Crosbie says:

    If you ever try a French keyboard then just a few letters out of place, not to say umpteen punctuation keys, make typing a pain.

    Even US/UK differences are irritating.

    Even a random distribution standardised would be better than deviation. For that matter, significant deviation is probably better than slight, because you then HAVE to look at the keys. Thus, I’d rather use US Qwerty and Dvorak, than 55 subtly different Qwerty keyboards.

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  37. edwinlee says:

    In the book “Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation” by James Utterbach of MIT, the Dvorak/QWERTY issue was addressed in what I believe to be a proper perspective: in the early days every typewriter manufacturer had its own keyboard layout for the same reason that all plumbing manufacturers had their unique pipe diameters and thread pitches: to make it hard for customers to change suppliers. The QWERTY keyboard happened to be on the first typewriter that displayed the print immediately after typing… an innovation that became an overwhelming standard and dragged the QWERTY keyboard with it. The QWERTY is like 60 cycles 115volts AC…neither tecnically good nor bad (compared to alternatives) but the overwhelming standard upon which other standards are hung. About 20 years ago I wrote an essay on this “Standards, Innovation and Survival” which can be found on my web page at http://www.elew.com

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  38. edwinlee says:

    In the book “Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation” by James Utterbach of MIT, the Dvorak/QWERTY issue was addressed in what I believe to be a proper perspective: in the early days every typewriter manufacturer had its own keyboard layout for the same reason that all plumbing manufacturers had their unique pipe diameters and thread pitches: to make it hard for customers to change suppliers. The QWERTY keyboard happened to be on the first typewriter that displayed the print immediately after typing… an innovation that became an overwhelming standard and dragged the QWERTY keyboard with it. The QWERTY is like 60 cycles 115volts AC…neither tecnically good nor bad (compared to alternatives) but the overwhelming standard upon which other standards are hung. About 20 years ago I wrote an essay on this “Standards, Innovation and Survival” which can be found on my web page at http://www.elew.com

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  39. loganb says:

    I’ve switched from QWERTY to Dvorak several times. I found Dvorak wasn’t necessarily faster, but was definitely more comfortable since most words could be formed with significantly less finger movement. The only reason I ever switched back was during times when I was working on many different computers that were not mine and switching back to QWERTY on the fly was too irritating.

    Eventually I resigned myself to having to know both, so I used Dvorak at work (on a TypeMatrix keyboard) and QWERTY at home (on an IBM M15). Now I naturally fall into the appropriate layout depending on the feel of the keyboard. If I type on another TypeMatrix, Dvorak comes naturally but QWERTY is difficult, on the M15, the opposite is true. Using keyboards with significantly different tactile responses made it much easier to keep the wires from crossing in my head.

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  40. loganb says:

    I’ve switched from QWERTY to Dvorak several times. I found Dvorak wasn’t necessarily faster, but was definitely more comfortable since most words could be formed with significantly less finger movement. The only reason I ever switched back was during times when I was working on many different computers that were not mine and switching back to QWERTY on the fly was too irritating.

    Eventually I resigned myself to having to know both, so I used Dvorak at work (on a TypeMatrix keyboard) and QWERTY at home (on an IBM M15). Now I naturally fall into the appropriate layout depending on the feel of the keyboard. If I type on another TypeMatrix, Dvorak comes naturally but QWERTY is difficult, on the M15, the opposite is true. Using keyboards with significantly different tactile responses made it much easier to keep the wires from crossing in my head.

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  41. Eric J says:

    procombodia – The reason that more people don’t use the machines Court Reporters use is because they’re designed to take down shorthand transcription phonetically, to be cleaned up later. The reporter is pressing multiple keys at once, and various “chords” map to different phonemes. These days a computer translates the notes into English and automatically formats the transcript. But someone still has to go through and clear up homophones, proper names, etc. Before computers, the reporter or a secretary familiar with the reporter’s notation would read the notes into a tape recorder, and a typist would type the transcript from the audio recording.

    Basically it’s a different skill set and use from typewriting/keyboarding that I don’t think would transfer well to computer input. (Although I do remember a vogue among the geeks for chording input devices in the early Wired/proto-Internet timeframe.)

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  42. Eric J says:

    procombodia – The reason that more people don’t use the machines Court Reporters use is because they’re designed to take down shorthand transcription phonetically, to be cleaned up later. The reporter is pressing multiple keys at once, and various “chords” map to different phonemes. These days a computer translates the notes into English and automatically formats the transcript. But someone still has to go through and clear up homophones, proper names, etc. Before computers, the reporter or a secretary familiar with the reporter’s notation would read the notes into a tape recorder, and a typist would type the transcript from the audio recording.

    Basically it’s a different skill set and use from typewriting/keyboarding that I don’t think would transfer well to computer input. (Although I do remember a vogue among the geeks for chording input devices in the early Wired/proto-Internet timeframe.)

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  43. Haacked says:

    I type using Dvorak. One unintended consequence of the increased speed is that you can type more characters per hour.

    Thus by taking advantage of that speed increase, some of the RSI benefits can be negated, especially with a bad keyboard where the keys require a lot of pressure (relatively speaking).

    For me, I just type more slowly at my old Qwerty speeds. Considering that your fingers can travel 16 miles in a typical day of typing (http://haacked.com/archive/2007/05/15/sabatoge-due-to-pain.-developers-take-ergonomics-seriously.aspx), it’s a good idea to just type less in dealing with pain, if you can.

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  44. Haacked says:

    I type using Dvorak. One unintended consequence of the increased speed is that you can type more characters per hour.

    Thus by taking advantage of that speed increase, some of the RSI benefits can be negated, especially with a bad keyboard where the keys require a lot of pressure (relatively speaking).

    For me, I just type more slowly at my old Qwerty speeds. Considering that your fingers can travel 16 miles in a typical day of typing (http://haacked.com/archive/2007/05/15/sabatoge-due-to-pain.-developers-take-ergonomics-seriously.aspx), it’s a good idea to just type less in dealing with pain, if you can.

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  45. Haacked says:

    That last URL got cut off. I should’ve used tiny URL. Sorry. Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/2jxxpk

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  46. Haacked says:

    That last URL got cut off. I should’ve used tiny URL. Sorry. Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/2jxxpk

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  47. Richard says:

    In college, after I began having RSI problems, I switched to Dvorak during a summer break, with the help of a trainer program. It took about two months for me to get up to speed, but it has been worth it – in the 7 years since then, I haven’t had any pain from typing. I can switch between the two fairly fluently and without looking at the keys, but Dvorak is just more comfortable for me – typing in qwerty for only a day will get my hands hurting again. Fast typing in Dvorak is like calmly twiddling your fingers, whereas I find qwerty, at any speed, to be like scrambling your hands furiously over the keys. No sense in running when you can walk and still win the race.

    All modern Windows PCs, Macs, and most Linux boxes can be set up to use Dvorak just by clicking an option in the control panel. You can even set a key combination to switch between the two on the fly (though on Windows, the only options are Ctrl+Shift and Alt+Shift, which are too easy to press accidentally). So when I need to work on a strange computer for a long time, I can almost always just switch it to Dvorak and switch it back when I’m done (remembering to disable it completely, otherwise the computer owner will get quite a shock!). I’ve even gotten used to the command keys (Cut, Copy, Paste) in their new positions – the only hard part is remembering which mode I’m in when I use them.

    Oh, and I’ve never changed the actual key caps on my keyboard – when I was learning I just stuck a picture of the key layout next to my monitor, and learned never to look down.

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  48. Richard says:

    In college, after I began having RSI problems, I switched to Dvorak during a summer break, with the help of a trainer program. It took about two months for me to get up to speed, but it has been worth it – in the 7 years since then, I haven’t had any pain from typing. I can switch between the two fairly fluently and without looking at the keys, but Dvorak is just more comfortable for me – typing in qwerty for only a day will get my hands hurting again. Fast typing in Dvorak is like calmly twiddling your fingers, whereas I find qwerty, at any speed, to be like scrambling your hands furiously over the keys. No sense in running when you can walk and still win the race.

    All modern Windows PCs, Macs, and most Linux boxes can be set up to use Dvorak just by clicking an option in the control panel. You can even set a key combination to switch between the two on the fly (though on Windows, the only options are Ctrl+Shift and Alt+Shift, which are too easy to press accidentally). So when I need to work on a strange computer for a long time, I can almost always just switch it to Dvorak and switch it back when I’m done (remembering to disable it completely, otherwise the computer owner will get quite a shock!). I’ve even gotten used to the command keys (Cut, Copy, Paste) in their new positions – the only hard part is remembering which mode I’m in when I use them.

    Oh, and I’ve never changed the actual key caps on my keyboard – when I was learning I just stuck a picture of the key layout next to my monitor, and learned never to look down.

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  49. JanneM says:

    @goinglikesixty: I’m a researcher, and have worked among other researchers spending most of their days on a keyboard, either writing text or programming, for a number of years. This same subject came up in conversation just a couple of weeks ago.

    Overall, I’d say perhaps 5-10% are touch typing “for real”, as in actually having trained to do it and following a real methodology. Most of the rest (inlcuding myself) do some kind of self-evolved semi-touch typing, with no real consistency as to which finger presses what key, and often forgoing the use of the little fingers (and to a large degree the ring fingers as well).

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  50. JanneM says:

    @goinglikesixty: I’m a researcher, and have worked among other researchers spending most of their days on a keyboard, either writing text or programming, for a number of years. This same subject came up in conversation just a couple of weeks ago.

    Overall, I’d say perhaps 5-10% are touch typing “for real”, as in actually having trained to do it and following a real methodology. Most of the rest (inlcuding myself) do some kind of self-evolved semi-touch typing, with no real consistency as to which finger presses what key, and often forgoing the use of the little fingers (and to a large degree the ring fingers as well).

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  51. Callum says:

    For anyone who wants to use both layouts, check out Das Keyboard which has no key markings at all. It’s completely blank. They claim you gain a significant speed increase because you stop looking at the keyboard pretty quickly!

    If I ever get round to blanking the keys on my laptop, I plan to experiment with Dvorak.

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  52. Callum says:

    For anyone who wants to use both layouts, check out Das Keyboard which has no key markings at all. It’s completely blank. They claim you gain a significant speed increase because you stop looking at the keyboard pretty quickly!

    If I ever get round to blanking the keys on my laptop, I plan to experiment with Dvorak.

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  53. stankwell says:

    Anyone know where I can get a Dvorak mouse?

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  54. stankwell says:

    Anyone know where I can get a Dvorak mouse?

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  55. krevbot says:

    I don’t know how anyone can justify using QWERTY when they know that Dvorak is faster. It’s like continuing to burn books because that’s what everyone has done before you, and then you keep doing it even after you learn that burning books is limiting knowledge.

    I switched during college, and although I’m not much faster, I my typing is more relaxed and comfortable.

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  56. krevbot says:

    I don’t know how anyone can justify using QWERTY when they know that Dvorak is faster. It’s like continuing to burn books because that’s what everyone has done before you, and then you keep doing it even after you learn that burning books is limiting knowledge.

    I switched during college, and although I’m not much faster, I my typing is more relaxed and comfortable.

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  57. clsand99 says:

    Hey JCgoodchild, your comparison of the “lucky” QWERTY keyboard to the gasoline powered automobile engine would be a nice argument for alternate fuel sources except for the fact that a steam engine still requires a heat source: coal, wood, gasoline, etc. If steam had been the prevailing technology in the infancy of automobiles, it would not have eliminated the possiblity that gasoline would be eventually be used to fuel that steam engine. And it certainly would not have prevented our current environmental crisis. Consider, if the larger, heavier, steam engine had miraculously prevailed over the relatively small & light-weight internal combustion engine then, in all likelihood, that steam engine would have been fueled by coal – which was the predominant fuel during the time that the auto was invented (late 19th century). As a fuel source, coal causes much more pollution than gasoline; and collecting coal from the earth causes much more environmental destruction than collecting oil; & coal, of course, is also of limited supply so instead of complaining about gasoline prices this summer, we’d be complaining about coal prices. So any chance that “luck” lead to our “poor environmentalism” is not a valid argument. Actually, the reverse may be true. Our environment is in trouble, but based on the technology available for MOST of the last 120 years, the gasoline engine most likely did the least damage. But this does not diminish our argument that, for environmental purposes, it’s time to replace that engine with more modern options. Conversely, I believe that if we avoid making silly claims like the gasoline engine was never a good engine to begin with, then we have more credibility to make the logical argument that the gasoline engine has outlived it’s purpose & it’s harm to society is beginning to outgrow it’s benefit to society.

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  58. clsand99 says:

    Hey JCgoodchild, your comparison of the “lucky” QWERTY keyboard to the gasoline powered automobile engine would be a nice argument for alternate fuel sources except for the fact that a steam engine still requires a heat source: coal, wood, gasoline, etc. If steam had been the prevailing technology in the infancy of automobiles, it would not have eliminated the possiblity that gasoline would be eventually be used to fuel that steam engine. And it certainly would not have prevented our current environmental crisis. Consider, if the larger, heavier, steam engine had miraculously prevailed over the relatively small & light-weight internal combustion engine then, in all likelihood, that steam engine would have been fueled by coal – which was the predominant fuel during the time that the auto was invented (late 19th century). As a fuel source, coal causes much more pollution than gasoline; and collecting coal from the earth causes much more environmental destruction than collecting oil; & coal, of course, is also of limited supply so instead of complaining about gasoline prices this summer, we’d be complaining about coal prices. So any chance that “luck” lead to our “poor environmentalism” is not a valid argument. Actually, the reverse may be true. Our environment is in trouble, but based on the technology available for MOST of the last 120 years, the gasoline engine most likely did the least damage. But this does not diminish our argument that, for environmental purposes, it’s time to replace that engine with more modern options. Conversely, I believe that if we avoid making silly claims like the gasoline engine was never a good engine to begin with, then we have more credibility to make the logical argument that the gasoline engine has outlived it’s purpose & it’s harm to society is beginning to outgrow it’s benefit to society.

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  59. Craig says:

    just came across this a little late,

    mostly those that switch seem to do so for comfort more than speed.

    I don’t use either layout. I unenthusiastically used Qwerty for forty years, now I happily use Colemak instead. I tried Dvorak a couple of times but did nod care much for it. Glad I found Colemak which by the way works pretty well in other languages because the layout is based on more than letter frequency in English.

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  60. Craig says:

    just came across this a little late,

    mostly those that switch seem to do so for comfort more than speed.

    I don’t use either layout. I unenthusiastically used Qwerty for forty years, now I happily use Colemak instead. I tried Dvorak a couple of times but did nod care much for it. Glad I found Colemak which by the way works pretty well in other languages because the layout is based on more than letter frequency in English.

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  61. James McKay says:

    I’d just like to add something to what Craig said. The BIG disadvantage of Dvorak is that it takes forever to learn it, and you have to go completely cold turkey if you want to stand any chance of learing it at all.

    He mentions the Colemak layout and I thought I’d expand on that a bit, as I am also a (very satisfied) Colemak user. It is a new, public domain, keyboard layout (first released two years ago) that moves only seventeen keys from their original qwerty positions to make a layout that is very tightly optimised for touch typing as well as being much easier for an existing qwerty typist to learn.

    Basically, it makes Dvorak obsolete.

    Personally, I managed to switch in only three weeks using a “qwerty by day, Colemak by night” approach, which avoids the loss of productivity in the early stages. I only abandoned qwerty (as far as it is possible to do so) once I was up to about 50 wpm on Colemak. There’s no way you could possibly do that with Dvorak.

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  62. James McKay says:

    I’d just like to add something to what Craig said. The BIG disadvantage of Dvorak is that it takes forever to learn it, and you have to go completely cold turkey if you want to stand any chance of learing it at all.

    He mentions the Colemak layout and I thought I’d expand on that a bit, as I am also a (very satisfied) Colemak user. It is a new, public domain, keyboard layout (first released two years ago) that moves only seventeen keys from their original qwerty positions to make a layout that is very tightly optimised for touch typing as well as being much easier for an existing qwerty typist to learn.

    Basically, it makes Dvorak obsolete.

    Personally, I managed to switch in only three weeks using a “qwerty by day, Colemak by night” approach, which avoids the loss of productivity in the early stages. I only abandoned qwerty (as far as it is possible to do so) once I was up to about 50 wpm on Colemak. There’s no way you could possibly do that with Dvorak.

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  63. Jeff says:

    I’m coming in a bit late, but this is how I see it.

    I’ve just started on using Dvorak but it has done wonders on my typing, I am a true ‘touch-typer’ and found it easy to switch over, I blanked my keys and just went with it. If you are a hunt and peck person to begin with switching keyboard styles will be the worlds most frustrating thing, and there really would be no need for it, but if you are a touch typer or pseudo touch typer then switching over is fairly streamlined and extremely easy, especially if you are one the keyboard for long periods of time. I know it made my life easier, I type at about the same speed in just about two weeks of typing and it is much easier on my wrists and such, so I think it’s a great system.

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  64. Jeff says:

    I’m coming in a bit late, but this is how I see it.

    I’ve just started on using Dvorak but it has done wonders on my typing, I am a true ‘touch-typer’ and found it easy to switch over, I blanked my keys and just went with it. If you are a hunt and peck person to begin with switching keyboard styles will be the worlds most frustrating thing, and there really would be no need for it, but if you are a touch typer or pseudo touch typer then switching over is fairly streamlined and extremely easy, especially if you are one the keyboard for long periods of time. I know it made my life easier, I type at about the same speed in just about two weeks of typing and it is much easier on my wrists and such, so I think it’s a great system.

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  65. Scott says:

    As a systems engineer, I am very interested in all of the talk about increases in productivity. However, it is my experience that many people who find themselves typing frequently at work tend to be limited more by the speed of their thoughts than the speed of their typing. Even as I compose this comment, I’m pausing to compose my thoughts and translating them into sentences. I typically can type 60 to 80 words per minute, but my “composition” speed is closer to half that and my programming speed maybe an eighth on a good day. A Dvorak layout would not change this, even if my typing speed did increase.

    On the topic of comfort, I think many people will find the pains of typing on a QWERTY board goes away if a proper (but slightly less “comfortable”) posture is used. This isn’t so different from sitting in a chair: if you are “comfortable” and slouch, you strain the muscles in your back. Most people allow the hands to slouch or rest the wrists, causing the fairly small muscles in the wrist and hand to do most of the work. QWERTY typing is “bad” for you, in the same way that sitting in a chair is “bad” for you. In fact, many keyboards labeled as ergonomic are just as bad or worse for your wrist and hand; look at the warnings found in most of the keyboards’ included literature.

    To alleviate the pain of typing on a standard-shaped QWERTY keyboard, I recommend allowing the larger muscles in your arms to do more of the work. In essence, I’m suggesting typing the way a pianist plays the piano: float over the keys. This allows the hand to retain a much more natural and powerful position and removes the need to stretch or clench to reach a key. As a side effect, you may find (as I did) that your accuracy and speed increase along with your comfort, especially for the numeric/symbol row.

    Incidentally, I often blame poor typing posture on the height of most office chairs compared to the height of the keyboard on the desk, which places the keyboard too high and forces the user to immediately assume an unnatural, claw-like hand position.

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  66. Scott says:

    As a systems engineer, I am very interested in all of the talk about increases in productivity. However, it is my experience that many people who find themselves typing frequently at work tend to be limited more by the speed of their thoughts than the speed of their typing. Even as I compose this comment, I’m pausing to compose my thoughts and translating them into sentences. I typically can type 60 to 80 words per minute, but my “composition” speed is closer to half that and my programming speed maybe an eighth on a good day. A Dvorak layout would not change this, even if my typing speed did increase.

    On the topic of comfort, I think many people will find the pains of typing on a QWERTY board goes away if a proper (but slightly less “comfortable”) posture is used. This isn’t so different from sitting in a chair: if you are “comfortable” and slouch, you strain the muscles in your back. Most people allow the hands to slouch or rest the wrists, causing the fairly small muscles in the wrist and hand to do most of the work. QWERTY typing is “bad” for you, in the same way that sitting in a chair is “bad” for you. In fact, many keyboards labeled as ergonomic are just as bad or worse for your wrist and hand; look at the warnings found in most of the keyboards’ included literature.

    To alleviate the pain of typing on a standard-shaped QWERTY keyboard, I recommend allowing the larger muscles in your arms to do more of the work. In essence, I’m suggesting typing the way a pianist plays the piano: float over the keys. This allows the hand to retain a much more natural and powerful position and removes the need to stretch or clench to reach a key. As a side effect, you may find (as I did) that your accuracy and speed increase along with your comfort, especially for the numeric/symbol row.

    Incidentally, I often blame poor typing posture on the height of most office chairs compared to the height of the keyboard on the desk, which places the keyboard too high and forces the user to immediately assume an unnatural, claw-like hand position.

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  67. Jim Randall says:

    I don’t believe the posts that I am reading in this blog. For starters Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis did not do there homework and what is driving them to be followers of Dr. Earl Strong on there Anti-Dvorak Crusade?! Are they threatened by change? What do they have to gain by bashing Dr. August Dvorak’s gift to humanity?

    Their tireless effort to discredit this humanitarian, even after his death, is relentless, ruthless, and unjustified. Don’t they have anything better to do with their time? What do they have to gain?

    I have already beat my Qwerty speed by over 20wpm and am still climbing. I had typed Qwerty over 20 years and Dvorak now for under a year. My hand pains are also gone! I have no desire to go back to the Qwerty Torture Board of finger-tangling and knuckle busting. Did you know that the inventor of the typewriter, Chistopher Sholes, recognized that Qwerty was inefficient and tried to change it? Also did you know you can spell the word “typewriter” on the top row?… How’s that for a marketing stunt.

    There is no special hardware needed to convert. It can be changed in most operating systems in less than 60 seconds.

    European contries are now starting to introduce their own Dvorak layout versions.

    Are these two individuals threatened by change? I do not think the Qwerty keyboard is going anywhere soon…look at the metric system. In fact, I am typing Dvorak on a Qwerty keyboard right now.

    You have the freedom to type on whatever layout your heart desires.

    All I ask is for Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis to give up their silly and unjustified crusade as there is many that have benefitted to include myself. Can they focus their time and effort on something more worthwhile and positive?

    If you want true documented, unbiased proof on this subject, contact Keytime in Seattle, WA. They have been teaching thousands to type each year in Qwerty and Dvorak.

    other useful references:

    http://www.keytime.com
    http://www.dvzine.org
    http://www.gigliwood.com/abcd/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPfevKbJRmQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkMB5Q27nQI

    There are several other references out there on this topic, but thought I’d highlight the more important ones.

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  68. Jim Randall says:

    I don’t believe the posts that I am reading in this blog. For starters Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis did not do there homework and what is driving them to be followers of Dr. Earl Strong on there Anti-Dvorak Crusade?! Are they threatened by change? What do they have to gain by bashing Dr. August Dvorak’s gift to humanity?

    Their tireless effort to discredit this humanitarian, even after his death, is relentless, ruthless, and unjustified. Don’t they have anything better to do with their time? What do they have to gain?

    I have already beat my Qwerty speed by over 20wpm and am still climbing. I had typed Qwerty over 20 years and Dvorak now for under a year. My hand pains are also gone! I have no desire to go back to the Qwerty Torture Board of finger-tangling and knuckle busting. Did you know that the inventor of the typewriter, Chistopher Sholes, recognized that Qwerty was inefficient and tried to change it? Also did you know you can spell the word “typewriter” on the top row?… How’s that for a marketing stunt.

    There is no special hardware needed to convert. It can be changed in most operating systems in less than 60 seconds.

    European contries are now starting to introduce their own Dvorak layout versions.

    Are these two individuals threatened by change? I do not think the Qwerty keyboard is going anywhere soon…look at the metric system. In fact, I am typing Dvorak on a Qwerty keyboard right now.

    You have the freedom to type on whatever layout your heart desires.

    All I ask is for Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis to give up their silly and unjustified crusade as there is many that have benefitted to include myself. Can they focus their time and effort on something more worthwhile and positive?

    If you want true documented, unbiased proof on this subject, contact Keytime in Seattle, WA. They have been teaching thousands to type each year in Qwerty and Dvorak.

    other useful references:

    http://www.keytime.com
    http://www.dvzine.org
    http://www.gigliwood.com/abcd/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPfevKbJRmQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkMB5Q27nQI

    There are several other references out there on this topic, but thought I’d highlight the more important ones.

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  69. Randy Cassingham says:

    Randy’s Response to the Anti-Dvorak Crusaders
    One poorly written anti-Dvorak article has had more press in the last several years than the Dvorak keyboard itself. Written by Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis, it has been published in journals, magazines, and web sites again and again and again — even though The Dvorak Keyboard author Randy Cassingham debunked it years ago. Yet the authors still repeat the same tired old stuff again and again, as if they’ve never heard that many of the things they keep saying are plain wrong!
    Here, for instance, is a letter from 1996. The authors did read it at that time and was published in Reason. Yet their meritless anti-Dvorak campaign continues.

    Letters to the Editor
    REASON Magazine
    3415 S Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400
    Los Angeles CA 90034-6064

    30 May 1996

    Dear Editor:

    The eight rambling pages by Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis (“L&M”) in your June issue devoted to slamming the Dvorak keyboard was not up to the standard I expect from REASON. While I agree that Dvorak’s slow acceptance may not be a good example of why markets can’t be “trusted,” L&M first slander “Typewriting Behavior”, the 1936 book by Dvorak, et al., presenting the keyboard’s design as “a late-night television infomercial rather than scientific work”. Rather, the 500+ page book stuffed with charts and design details is, in the preface, clearly noted as part of “a series of commercial education [books] to result from” their studies, which they gratefully acknowledge were funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (not the “Carnegie Commission”). L&M claim that they “discovered” this support, as if it were somehow hidden from public view. Hidden in the preface of the book?

    They claim the 1944 Navy study was difficult to find, and the author’s names were hidden from public view. My publishing company has had copies of the report available for 15 years (and copies of “Typewriting Behavior”, for that matter). It clearly shows it was “Prepared by Training Section, Departmental Services Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel, Washington D.C.” — not an atypical attribution for a government study.

    Their coup de grâce, though, is the GSA’s 1956 study by Earl Strong. L&M conclude that because there has been “no attempt to …discredit the GSA study”, academics and journalists are not living up to their high standards when writing about the Dvorak. L&M didn’t do their homework: Dvorak supporters would simply say “been there, done that.” Example: my 1986 book, which L&M could probably have found in their university libraries, spent several pages pointing out gross bias behind the GSA study. Harvard’s Richard Land was quoted as saying the GSA test was “poorly designed,” that “the conclusions are overstated,” and that the data actually showed “great promise” for further improvement by the Dvorak typists which Strong ignored. When other researchers wanted to see the raw data so they could draw their own conclusions, they found that Dr. Strong had destroyed it all! This is an example of the high standards L&M aspire to? Further, Strong was clearly biased: in 1949, he wrote “I am out to exploit [the 'present keyboard'] to its very utmost in opposition to the change to new keyboards,” and there is evidence of a personal animosity between Drs. Strong and Dvorak.

    I agree with L&M on another thing: there is a need for good-quality, unbiased studies on Dvorak. The best raw data I have access to at present is from KEYTIME, a Seattle-based company which uses keyboard instructional technologies they developed in house. In the past nine years, they have trained several hundred typists on Dvorak, and several thousand on Qwerty, using the exact same equipment and teaching methodologies. They have “repeatedly found” that after 15 hours of training and practice time, existing Qwerty hunt-and-peck typists can touch type at an average 20 WPM. After 15 hours of training and practice on Dvorak, similarly able (Qwerty) typists consistently average 25-30 WPM touch-typing on Dvorak. Further, KEYTIME reports that the Dvorak typists continue to improve at a higher rate. They have noticed a recent “a change in tide” of students wanting to learn Dvorak over Qwerty.

    L&M say that “the advent of computer keyboards, which can easily be reprogrammed, …lowers the cost of converting to Dvorak to essentially zero” (true, yes), but “few computer users have adopted the Dvorak keyboard.” May I inquire as to the whereabouts of their “high standard”, statistically valid study to support this statement?

    Your authors note that “there is further evidence of Qwerty’s viability in its survival throughout the world.” Indeed: since 1936, this has also been good proof of Dvorak’s viability.

    L&M close with “the story of Dvorak’s superiority is a myth or, perhaps more properly, a hoax.” Concluding that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot among the obviously grass-roots 60-year support for the Dvorak is paranoia, not academic theory.

    Sincerely,

    [copy]

    Randy Cassingham
    Author, “The Dvorak Keyboard” (1986, Freelance Communications)

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  70. Randy Cassingham says:

    Randy’s Response to the Anti-Dvorak Crusaders
    One poorly written anti-Dvorak article has had more press in the last several years than the Dvorak keyboard itself. Written by Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis, it has been published in journals, magazines, and web sites again and again and again — even though The Dvorak Keyboard author Randy Cassingham debunked it years ago. Yet the authors still repeat the same tired old stuff again and again, as if they’ve never heard that many of the things they keep saying are plain wrong!
    Here, for instance, is a letter from 1996. The authors did read it at that time and was published in Reason. Yet their meritless anti-Dvorak campaign continues.

    Letters to the Editor
    REASON Magazine
    3415 S Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400
    Los Angeles CA 90034-6064

    30 May 1996

    Dear Editor:

    The eight rambling pages by Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis (“L&M”) in your June issue devoted to slamming the Dvorak keyboard was not up to the standard I expect from REASON. While I agree that Dvorak’s slow acceptance may not be a good example of why markets can’t be “trusted,” L&M first slander “Typewriting Behavior”, the 1936 book by Dvorak, et al., presenting the keyboard’s design as “a late-night television infomercial rather than scientific work”. Rather, the 500+ page book stuffed with charts and design details is, in the preface, clearly noted as part of “a series of commercial education [books] to result from” their studies, which they gratefully acknowledge were funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (not the “Carnegie Commission”). L&M claim that they “discovered” this support, as if it were somehow hidden from public view. Hidden in the preface of the book?

    They claim the 1944 Navy study was difficult to find, and the author’s names were hidden from public view. My publishing company has had copies of the report available for 15 years (and copies of “Typewriting Behavior”, for that matter). It clearly shows it was “Prepared by Training Section, Departmental Services Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel, Washington D.C.” — not an atypical attribution for a government study.

    Their coup de grâce, though, is the GSA’s 1956 study by Earl Strong. L&M conclude that because there has been “no attempt to …discredit the GSA study”, academics and journalists are not living up to their high standards when writing about the Dvorak. L&M didn’t do their homework: Dvorak supporters would simply say “been there, done that.” Example: my 1986 book, which L&M could probably have found in their university libraries, spent several pages pointing out gross bias behind the GSA study. Harvard’s Richard Land was quoted as saying the GSA test was “poorly designed,” that “the conclusions are overstated,” and that the data actually showed “great promise” for further improvement by the Dvorak typists which Strong ignored. When other researchers wanted to see the raw data so they could draw their own conclusions, they found that Dr. Strong had destroyed it all! This is an example of the high standards L&M aspire to? Further, Strong was clearly biased: in 1949, he wrote “I am out to exploit [the 'present keyboard'] to its very utmost in opposition to the change to new keyboards,” and there is evidence of a personal animosity between Drs. Strong and Dvorak.

    I agree with L&M on another thing: there is a need for good-quality, unbiased studies on Dvorak. The best raw data I have access to at present is from KEYTIME, a Seattle-based company which uses keyboard instructional technologies they developed in house. In the past nine years, they have trained several hundred typists on Dvorak, and several thousand on Qwerty, using the exact same equipment and teaching methodologies. They have “repeatedly found” that after 15 hours of training and practice time, existing Qwerty hunt-and-peck typists can touch type at an average 20 WPM. After 15 hours of training and practice on Dvorak, similarly able (Qwerty) typists consistently average 25-30 WPM touch-typing on Dvorak. Further, KEYTIME reports that the Dvorak typists continue to improve at a higher rate. They have noticed a recent “a change in tide” of students wanting to learn Dvorak over Qwerty.

    L&M say that “the advent of computer keyboards, which can easily be reprogrammed, …lowers the cost of converting to Dvorak to essentially zero” (true, yes), but “few computer users have adopted the Dvorak keyboard.” May I inquire as to the whereabouts of their “high standard”, statistically valid study to support this statement?

    Your authors note that “there is further evidence of Qwerty’s viability in its survival throughout the world.” Indeed: since 1936, this has also been good proof of Dvorak’s viability.

    L&M close with “the story of Dvorak’s superiority is a myth or, perhaps more properly, a hoax.” Concluding that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot among the obviously grass-roots 60-year support for the Dvorak is paranoia, not academic theory.

    Sincerely,

    [copy]

    Randy Cassingham
    Author, “The Dvorak Keyboard” (1986, Freelance Communications)

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  71. Anony-mouse says:

    As one who has transitioned from QWERTY to Dvorak, I wish to place my (perhaps worthless) opinion and experience against taking over a month, and also that using a QWERTY keyboard destroys all progress made thus far.

    Although I admittedly am an avid “gamer chick” who spends far too much time playing and even making her own video games, and is rumored to have a USB port for a bellybutton, it took me less than fourteen hours to make the transition: seven hours in a busy chat room among friends who knew I was making the switch, and another seven in the game StarCraft, where fast typing is key to victory. Breaking up the uniformity of this “training,” however, I would be forced to use QWERTY on the school computers. Perhaps it was the duality of my “growing up” on Dvorak that lets me easily switch between the two keyboards without a second thought, but in the end, I felt that the switch was not at all a painful one– though the fate that I avoid, CTS, is much moreso.

    Sincerely,
    An Anony-mouse

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  72. Anony-mouse says:

    As one who has transitioned from QWERTY to Dvorak, I wish to place my (perhaps worthless) opinion and experience against taking over a month, and also that using a QWERTY keyboard destroys all progress made thus far.

    Although I admittedly am an avid “gamer chick” who spends far too much time playing and even making her own video games, and is rumored to have a USB port for a bellybutton, it took me less than fourteen hours to make the transition: seven hours in a busy chat room among friends who knew I was making the switch, and another seven in the game StarCraft, where fast typing is key to victory. Breaking up the uniformity of this “training,” however, I would be forced to use QWERTY on the school computers. Perhaps it was the duality of my “growing up” on Dvorak that lets me easily switch between the two keyboards without a second thought, but in the end, I felt that the switch was not at all a painful one– though the fate that I avoid, CTS, is much moreso.

    Sincerely,
    An Anony-mouse

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  73. just me says:

    I was equally proficient on QWERTY as I now am on DVORAK. I really noticed no speed increase, and actually I may have been slightly faster on the QWERTY. However, I had a serious wrist injury two years ago and have been unable to go back to QWERTY because of that. When I type with QWERTY, it aggravates the old injury so badly that I can get maybe one paragraph of type before I have to rest. The same does not happen at all when I’m using DVORAK. I would like to see this layout used more widely in the USA. It’s just more comfortable and I’d bet it’d help a lot of people with wrist problems such as RSI. Most of us are not concerned about foreign travel where we might encounter another type of keyboard layout. Besides which, Windows seems to be pretty much everywhere and standard installations allow switching layouts.

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  74. just me says:

    I was equally proficient on QWERTY as I now am on DVORAK. I really noticed no speed increase, and actually I may have been slightly faster on the QWERTY. However, I had a serious wrist injury two years ago and have been unable to go back to QWERTY because of that. When I type with QWERTY, it aggravates the old injury so badly that I can get maybe one paragraph of type before I have to rest. The same does not happen at all when I’m using DVORAK. I would like to see this layout used more widely in the USA. It’s just more comfortable and I’d bet it’d help a lot of people with wrist problems such as RSI. Most of us are not concerned about foreign travel where we might encounter another type of keyboard layout. Besides which, Windows seems to be pretty much everywhere and standard installations allow switching layouts.

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  75. Kenneth Burchfiel says:

    The DVORAK keyboard was instrumental in my writing education. Before adopting it, I couldn’t touch type using ANY format; then, once I got the basics down, I was able to go beyond 100 WPM rather frequently.

    A few notes. First, you don’t need a DVORAK keyboard. I simply pried out my keys and switched them around (you’ll find layout guides online). Second, if you’re able to touch type rather well, there won’t even be a need to switch the keys; just change your keyboard format in your operating system and keep on typing with QWERTY.

    You don’t need to become a freak to adopt the DVORAK system. Just learn to touch type with it on your home keyboard, and I think you’ll be glad you did.

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  76. Kenneth Burchfiel says:

    The DVORAK keyboard was instrumental in my writing education. Before adopting it, I couldn’t touch type using ANY format; then, once I got the basics down, I was able to go beyond 100 WPM rather frequently.

    A few notes. First, you don’t need a DVORAK keyboard. I simply pried out my keys and switched them around (you’ll find layout guides online). Second, if you’re able to touch type rather well, there won’t even be a need to switch the keys; just change your keyboard format in your operating system and keep on typing with QWERTY.

    You don’t need to become a freak to adopt the DVORAK system. Just learn to touch type with it on your home keyboard, and I think you’ll be glad you did.

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  77. Nikki says:

    I really wish that I was able to say mare about the results of a switch, but I a week into converting to Dvorak (and yes, it IS painful. I felt dizzy the first few days.)

    I was a very proficient 90 WPM typist on qwerty, and I had touch typing down to a tee (I could easily type with my eyes closed, and I could even detect my own typos this way.) Now, after just about 7 days of Dvorak, I’m at around 30-35wpm, but of course I haven’t learned touch typing many of the keys yet.

    I’m hoping that this transition will be worthwhile – and perhaps after I’ve mastered the keyboard, I’ll come by and leave an update saying how awesome it is to be able to properly type again.

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  78. Nikki says:

    I really wish that I was able to say mare about the results of a switch, but I a week into converting to Dvorak (and yes, it IS painful. I felt dizzy the first few days.)

    I was a very proficient 90 WPM typist on qwerty, and I had touch typing down to a tee (I could easily type with my eyes closed, and I could even detect my own typos this way.) Now, after just about 7 days of Dvorak, I’m at around 30-35wpm, but of course I haven’t learned touch typing many of the keys yet.

    I’m hoping that this transition will be worthwhile – and perhaps after I’ve mastered the keyboard, I’ll come by and leave an update saying how awesome it is to be able to properly type again.

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  79. Matthew says:

    The free market idealists can relax on this one because in a way both sides are correct. The Dvorak keyboard is superior to the Qwerty keyboard. Then why did the Qwerty keyboard win out? Because it was superior –at the time. When the Qwerty keyboard was invented there was no Dvorak keyboard to compete with, and because of the mechanics of typewriters at the time it met a need. However, needs have changed and as computers become more and more an every day item (remember, only ten years ago Bill Gates’ lofty goal was to put a desktop PC in every household in America) and people have to deal with the chronic stress syndromes brought about by the primitive torture board known an Qwerty the shift will become inevitable.

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  80. Matthew says:

    The free market idealists can relax on this one because in a way both sides are correct. The Dvorak keyboard is superior to the Qwerty keyboard. Then why did the Qwerty keyboard win out? Because it was superior –at the time. When the Qwerty keyboard was invented there was no Dvorak keyboard to compete with, and because of the mechanics of typewriters at the time it met a need. However, needs have changed and as computers become more and more an every day item (remember, only ten years ago Bill Gates’ lofty goal was to put a desktop PC in every household in America) and people have to deal with the chronic stress syndromes brought about by the primitive torture board known an Qwerty the shift will become inevitable.

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  81. Ross says:

    In my experience Dvorak is a superior keyboard layout to QWERTY. My fingers don’t have to move around as much and typing is greatly more comfortable.

    I am a software developer and have been using Dvorak for many years. I learned it in University as a curiosity, but eventually switched over full time after experiencing pain in my hands from too much typing. Like many others have stated, I didn’t switch for faster typing speeds but for reduced stress.

    As for these pro-QWERY folks, I am just guessing they are looking for a reason to cling to the standard they’ve invested in and would rather bad mouth Dvorak than take the time to learn it.

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  82. Ross says:

    In my experience Dvorak is a superior keyboard layout to QWERTY. My fingers don’t have to move around as much and typing is greatly more comfortable.

    I am a software developer and have been using Dvorak for many years. I learned it in University as a curiosity, but eventually switched over full time after experiencing pain in my hands from too much typing. Like many others have stated, I didn’t switch for faster typing speeds but for reduced stress.

    As for these pro-QWERY folks, I am just guessing they are looking for a reason to cling to the standard they’ve invested in and would rather bad mouth Dvorak than take the time to learn it.

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  83. Dana Albert says:

    Ms. Tourtelot suggests that a minor increase in typing speed isn’t worth a month of struggling to type. I totally disagree, at least where white-collar workers are concerned. The PC is the tool we use most, and the keyboard is our primary interface to it. We’re all typing for hours and hours every day, year after year. Any decent gain in efficiency is well worth the investment of a month’s effort.

    I switched to Dvorak because, even at the tender age of thirty, my hands and wrists hurt at the end of each day. My speed hasn’t actually increased by much with Dvorak, but I haven’t suffered that hand and wrist pain in the ten years since I switched. I would never go back!

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  84. Dana Albert says:

    Ms. Tourtelot suggests that a minor increase in typing speed isn’t worth a month of struggling to type. I totally disagree, at least where white-collar workers are concerned. The PC is the tool we use most, and the keyboard is our primary interface to it. We’re all typing for hours and hours every day, year after year. Any decent gain in efficiency is well worth the investment of a month’s effort.

    I switched to Dvorak because, even at the tender age of thirty, my hands and wrists hurt at the end of each day. My speed hasn’t actually increased by much with Dvorak, but I haven’t suffered that hand and wrist pain in the ten years since I switched. I would never go back!

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  85. Sean says:

    There is also left-handed and right-handed dvorak layouts designed for those with a physical disability.

    I do programming and graphic design work and get tired of moving my hand between the mouse and keyboard using QWERTY. So I’m planning on learning left-handed dvorak so my right hand can stay on the mouse more of the time.

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  86. Sean says:

    There is also left-handed and right-handed dvorak layouts designed for those with a physical disability.

    I do programming and graphic design work and get tired of moving my hand between the mouse and keyboard using QWERTY. So I’m planning on learning left-handed dvorak so my right hand can stay on the mouse more of the time.

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  87. Michael Dickens says:

    “And don’t even think about using a QWERTY keyboard during your Dvorak training. You’ll only undo all the progress you’ve made.”

    As someone who has learned five keyboard layouts, I can honestly say that this is terrible advice. If you practice QWERTY for ten to fifteen minutes a day and use Dvorak the rest of the day, you will be able to completely retain your ability to use QWERTY. But if you don’t practice QWERTY at all, you will completely forget how to use it.

    You can remember two keyboard layouts just as you can remember two languages. But a great way to make sure that people don’t remember two keyboard layouts is by telling them not to try.

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  88. Michael Dickens says:

    “And don’t even think about using a QWERTY keyboard during your Dvorak training. You’ll only undo all the progress you’ve made.”

    As someone who has learned five keyboard layouts, I can honestly say that this is terrible advice. If you practice QWERTY for ten to fifteen minutes a day and use Dvorak the rest of the day, you will be able to completely retain your ability to use QWERTY. But if you don’t practice QWERTY at all, you will completely forget how to use it.

    You can remember two keyboard layouts just as you can remember two languages. But a great way to make sure that people don’t remember two keyboard layouts is by telling them not to try.

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  89. Victoria says:

    I made the switch (on my home PC) in early 2008, I spent 2 months using Dvorak at home & QWERTY at work. My transition was quite terrible until I switched my work machine to Dvorak. Once both computers were Dvorak, It took about a month to become proficient. I never learned to touch type in QWERTY, so my typing speed and accuracy have increased unbelievably.
    The Dvorak keyboard just makes sense… each key is located based on it’s frequency of use (‘Z’ and ‘Q’ being the most difficult to reach). No such logic can be applied to the QWERTY keyboard.
    Using Dvorak on ‘public’ computers is easy with a small tweak to the regional & language settings.
    A Dvorak keyboard will either impress your Office Tech. or cause him great grief. The keyboard functions as an excellent password protection measure; some Windows log-in’s only accept QWERTY input, so you will be required to do a letter-for-letter transcription to log-in.
    One small problem I have noticed with the Dvorak layout: word processing software can be exceptionally unhelpful. Spell check seems to be good at compensating for finger slips in QWERTY, if my finger slips in Dvorak my spell check results are dramatically different.

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  90. Victoria says:

    I made the switch (on my home PC) in early 2008, I spent 2 months using Dvorak at home & QWERTY at work. My transition was quite terrible until I switched my work machine to Dvorak. Once both computers were Dvorak, It took about a month to become proficient. I never learned to touch type in QWERTY, so my typing speed and accuracy have increased unbelievably.
    The Dvorak keyboard just makes sense… each key is located based on it’s frequency of use (‘Z’ and ‘Q’ being the most difficult to reach). No such logic can be applied to the QWERTY keyboard.
    Using Dvorak on ‘public’ computers is easy with a small tweak to the regional & language settings.
    A Dvorak keyboard will either impress your Office Tech. or cause him great grief. The keyboard functions as an excellent password protection measure; some Windows log-in’s only accept QWERTY input, so you will be required to do a letter-for-letter transcription to log-in.
    One small problem I have noticed with the Dvorak layout: word processing software can be exceptionally unhelpful. Spell check seems to be good at compensating for finger slips in QWERTY, if my finger slips in Dvorak my spell check results are dramatically different.

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  91. Wendy says:

    If just for the Repetitive Stress Syndrome alone, it seems like a worthwhile investment of time. I guess it depends how much you type, though.

    Another example, of luck winning out is the mammogram machine over thermal imaging. At the time they were both invented, computers just didn’t have the capability to process the massive amount of info collected by thermal imaging. (Thermal imaging doesn’t put any harmful rays into the tissue nor does it squash a potential tumor causing it to metastasize. They also detect tumors much earlier, at the angiogenesis stage, so they sometimes produce what look like false positives). Now, strangely enough, thanks to military research, thermal imaging is more viable, but very few hospitals are willing to switch. And almost no insurance companies are willing to pay for it, despite the fact that is a 100 percent harmless technique competing with a technique that actually causes cancer where it is meant to detect it.

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  92. Wendy says:

    If just for the Repetitive Stress Syndrome alone, it seems like a worthwhile investment of time. I guess it depends how much you type, though.

    Another example, of luck winning out is the mammogram machine over thermal imaging. At the time they were both invented, computers just didn’t have the capability to process the massive amount of info collected by thermal imaging. (Thermal imaging doesn’t put any harmful rays into the tissue nor does it squash a potential tumor causing it to metastasize. They also detect tumors much earlier, at the angiogenesis stage, so they sometimes produce what look like false positives). Now, strangely enough, thanks to military research, thermal imaging is more viable, but very few hospitals are willing to switch. And almost no insurance companies are willing to pay for it, despite the fact that is a 100 percent harmless technique competing with a technique that actually causes cancer where it is meant to detect it.

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  93. mark says:

    I always find it interesting to find comments that span a couple of years, and the different perspectives in this thread are actually enjoyable to read.

    I switched to Dvorak 4 years ago. I too felt like my mind was being bent during the process. I found it very similar to learning a new musical instrument. I already knew the language (English vs. music), but getting the desired output requires different muscle movements (and for wind instruments breathing techniques). I think my music experience helped in the switch to Dvorak.

    It took me about one week to get proficient, and that week was difficult. I’m a programmer by trade so I do a lot of typing. I Googled ‘Dvorak tutor’ and found some good typing courses that I went through during lunch and for about two hours at night. I could not afford to lose too much productivity for very long.

    It took about two more weeks to be able to think/type in terms of words and phrases rather than individual letters. I was back to speed within three weeks of the Monday I switched. Actually I started practicing during the weekend before I switched at work.

    I found it to be a fun challenge, and I can feel the difference at the end of the day. My fingers and wrists are not as worn out. Anyone experiencing discomfort when typing should give it a try. Also, check out keyboards that have a column lay out rather than the traditional staggered lay out inherited from the typewriter. My decision came down between the TypeMatrix and the Kinesis Contoured Advantage keyboards. Even if you don’t switch to Dvorak, the column layout is a lot more comfortable. My wife uses one now in Qwerty mode.

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  94. mark says:

    I always find it interesting to find comments that span a couple of years, and the different perspectives in this thread are actually enjoyable to read.

    I switched to Dvorak 4 years ago. I too felt like my mind was being bent during the process. I found it very similar to learning a new musical instrument. I already knew the language (English vs. music), but getting the desired output requires different muscle movements (and for wind instruments breathing techniques). I think my music experience helped in the switch to Dvorak.

    It took me about one week to get proficient, and that week was difficult. I’m a programmer by trade so I do a lot of typing. I Googled ‘Dvorak tutor’ and found some good typing courses that I went through during lunch and for about two hours at night. I could not afford to lose too much productivity for very long.

    It took about two more weeks to be able to think/type in terms of words and phrases rather than individual letters. I was back to speed within three weeks of the Monday I switched. Actually I started practicing during the weekend before I switched at work.

    I found it to be a fun challenge, and I can feel the difference at the end of the day. My fingers and wrists are not as worn out. Anyone experiencing discomfort when typing should give it a try. Also, check out keyboards that have a column lay out rather than the traditional staggered lay out inherited from the typewriter. My decision came down between the TypeMatrix and the Kinesis Contoured Advantage keyboards. Even if you don’t switch to Dvorak, the column layout is a lot more comfortable. My wife uses one now in Qwerty mode.

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  95. 180wpm says:

    The greatest typists on the internet, that type arond 180 wpm and 210 wpm on shor texts, at typing contests type QWERTY ! So, I don’t know about Dvorak….

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  96. 180wpm says:

    The greatest typists on the internet, that type arond 180 wpm and 210 wpm on shor texts, at typing contests type QWERTY ! So, I don’t know about Dvorak….

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  97. aaron says:

    Check out the Workman Layout. There’s a visual comparison of the key usages between layouts which is really interesting. Workman shows significant advantages over all of them.

    http://viralintrospection.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/a-different-philosophy-in-designing-keyboard-layouts/

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  98. aaron says:

    Check out the Workman Layout. There’s a visual comparison of the key usages between layouts which is really interesting. Workman shows significant advantages over all of them.

    http://viralintrospection.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/a-different-philosophy-in-designing-keyboard-layouts/

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  99. Amp says:

    This is dumb, use QWERTY. It’s modern.

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  100. Amp says:

    This is dumb, use QWERTY. It’s modern.

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  101. Dana Albert says:

    Dear 180wpm,

    You may be fast, but not that accurate. Your short missive has two typos in it. Many of us still care about accuracy.

    I would also like to know on what data you make your claim about “the fastest typists on the Internet.” The current world speed record of 212 wpm was set using the Dvorak layout.

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  102. Dana Albert says:

    Dear 180wpm,

    You may be fast, but not that accurate. Your short missive has two typos in it. Many of us still care about accuracy.

    I would also like to know on what data you make your claim about “the fastest typists on the Internet.” The current world speed record of 212 wpm was set using the Dvorak layout.

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  103. ChordBoard says:

    Some of this has been said by others … so if I repeat, it is only to add emphasis :).

    To make a real argument for speed (with proper training) … I would put my money on a Chord board with predictive text. Without googling it people (though it’s worth the effort) chord keyboards are similar in theory to chords on a piano. Mostly designed for compact size, multiple simultaneous key presses could mean a single character. With frequent keys (notes) require just a solitary key. A version (with short hand as opposed to predictive test) are stenotype machines used by court reporters. Obviously the stenographers are fast, and if you never did that courthouse trip in school, .. they let the kids talk and then repeat it back with every “uh”, “eh”, and “er” you uttered. It also shows the huge limitations. Very specialized layout (and chords now!) along with training. That talent wouldn’t work for squat on 99.9% of the keyboards, phones, etc you come across. On the other hand, QWERTY remains the jack of all trades the one proficient in vast majority of cases encountered.

    ls

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  104. Dvorak says:

    Dear Nicole,

    I am the person who have changed to Dvorak for better wpm.

    The improvement is doubling you typing speed(from 30 to 60wpm) Save half the time when you compose email or writing proposal.

    I cannot figure out why somebody will discourage the change.

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  105. binaryphile says:

    I stopped using the QGMLWB fully-optimized layout from carpal-x after using it for about 8 months so I could regain my lost QWERTY skills. When I decided to go back to QGMLWB so I could become proficient at both at the same time, I found it too difficult to maintain and decided to give Colemak a try because it doesn’t try to remap every key, and because of its popularity.

    Unfortunately, I found that learning a new layout was more painful than reviving my suppressed QGMLWB skills. However, having a basis to compare all three layouts taught me something important.

    I realized that the greatest difficulties I had with learning new keys were those that moved off of the same finger, and those that moved in relation to the other keys around them.

    I figured out that it I could move a much greater number of keys if a) they all moved together and b) they stayed with the same fingers. What I found is that this approach valued the flow of my typing and the finger impulses I had. I only had to modify the aim, not the entire finger or hand, and this resulted in less thinking and greater accuracy.

    The simplest example of this would be to switch the entire home row with the upper row of the keyboard. I’m using this just as an example, although according to the stats, this is actually an improvement for home-row typing percentage.

    If you make that switch, you’ve changed over 2/3 of the keys on the keyboard. However, you’ll quickly find that this layout is *easier* to learn than any other. After an initial period of confusion, your brain snaps into the switch and gets it that it’s just a row transposition, which is a simpler transform than swapping individual keys. It doesn’t have to figure out individual key transpositions after that.

    After making that realization, I decided to use that as the guiding principle for a new layout, one that achieves the best possible home-row frequency while making transpositions in chunks, and one that honors finger impulses where it doesn’t. I wrote up my results as a website: http://minimak.org/. After using it for a couple days, I was able to achieve more progress than I had with either QGMLWB or Colemak in the same amount of time. I’m interested to hear other people’s experiences, if you’re willing to try.

    It shares a tiny bit with Colemak in that it moves substantially fewer keys than most layouts, but it’s more like the Asset layout in its goal. It resembles neither when you look at it though. Take a look and see what you think.

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  106. Andy says:

    I agree. One’s time could be better spent doing something else, like learning how to fly an airplane. Here’s another thing to consider, as well. With technology progressing as rapidly as it is, how long is it before keyboards are passed up for something more efficient? This debate may have had weight years ago, but these day, whatever you’ve learned, stick with it.

    - Andy
    http://skypark.tv/

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  107. chris says:

    ha haaa freaknomics.com its such a cool name i like qwerty so far never heard of Dvorak, hmmm it seems hard to use im going to look into it further

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