The Fable of the QWERTY Keys

Stan Liebowitz: The Economist: The QWERTY Myth:

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

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

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