Posted by ESC on October 30, 2003
QWERTY - The first commercially available typewriter was manufactured by E. Remington & Sons Arms Co. in 1874 - the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer, sold for $125. It was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soulé. At least 52 models were designed before this, including one patented in 1714 by Englishman Henry Mill. Most early models were aimed at creating deeply embossed letters that could be "read" by blind people. The Sholes & Glidden was the first to have the key pattern QWERTY. Sholes at first designed the keyboard with the keys running A to Z in two rows. But having common alphabetical letter-pairings (ABle, STRing) together caused the mechanism to jam. He commissioned a study and then used that information to break up the letter-combinations and "scatter" them across the keyboard. The result: a keyboard that includes QWERTY. From "Quirky QWERTY: the story of the keyboard @ your fingertips" by Torbjorn Lundmark, University of New South Wales Press, Sidney, Australia, first published in 2002.
This is a neat little book. Actually it's not "just" about the keyboard. It's a history of the alphabet, numbers, diacritics and so forth.