Many, if not most of us, spend a significant amount of time in front of a keyboard. Some of us rely on our typing skills (to one degree or another) to generate a living. And while point and click technology has made speed typing less of a requirement than it was a few decades ago, good communication increasingly demands solid typing skills.
A computer keyboard may seem like a simple and relatively unimportant tool, but the reality is that the keyboard interface has allowed information to be created and replicated in a way that has transformed the world. Think about it. What would a computer be without a keyboard? Certainly, the mouse and other innovations have reduced keystrokes. But there is simply no shortcut to entering vast quantities of raw information into a computer system. And like it or not, virtually every sentence, every word, every syllable, and every letter has had to be pounded out by a typist. It turns out that the lowly keyboard is one of the most important tools mankind has ever devised.
Standardized Keyboard Arrangement: The Key to Typing Productivity
The standard keyboard arrangement in Western countries is often referred to as QWERTY. Take a look at the top row of letters on a standard keyboard – moving from left to right – and you will understand why. All keyboards have a common placement of letters to ensure that any skilled typist can move seamlessly from one keyboard to another without losing anything in productivity. The current computer keyboard configuration may not seem all that intuitive at first glance, but it is elegantly designed to result in maximum typing speed and efficiency.
Most standard keyboards manufactured today have 101 keys. Increasingly, additional symbols and specialized applications are generating a lot of keyboard variations. However, the fundamental arrangement of the standard letters and numbers is generally never changed. This allows individuals to move from one keyboard to another without trying to figure out a new keyboard arrangement every time they type. Over time key positioning can be memorized and fingers can be trained to type keys without searching or even looking down at the keyboard. This is much the same concept as we see with the piano keyboard. Piano keys are arranged in a standard fashion, allowing play by touch rather than by sight. Of course, like sight reading on a piano, touch typing on a keyboard requires a lot of practice. With dedication, however, typing can become second nature and speed and efficiency can increase dramatically.