Why aren't the letters on a computer keyboard arranged in alphabetical order?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The basic answer to this is that the QWERTY keyboard layout was devised because of the typewriter technology of the time.  This layout was meant to prevent the typewriter's "typebars" from jamming together.

Old time typewriters were made with each letter on the end of a little arm that would fly up when you hit the key.  The arm would fly up and hit an inked ribbon, making an impression of the letter on the paper.  If two keys right next to each other were pressed at the same time, the typebars would both fly up and stick together.

The QWERTY layout was adopted so that letters that were commonly used would be far apart on the keyboard.  That way there would be less chance of two adjacent keys being pressed at the same time and causing a jam.

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