Why Do We Type on a QWERTY Keyboard?

Dec 20
Why do we type on a *QWERTY* keyboard? Why was it designed this way?

The answer relies in what we refer to as a ''dominant design''.

Dominant design refers to the standardisation of the manufacturing design of a product to be followed by all design producers. It is the de facto standard that all companies adhere to.

The dominant design is not necessarily the optimal design; it is instead the design that wins the allegiance of the market.

Let's explore how. 

Before a ‘’standard’’ design emerges, many companies try to innovate and develop a design for novel products - this is the pre-dominant design phase. At this stage, companies are investing in R&D and risk their design not being adopted.

Then, a dominant design emerges (hint: it doesn’t need to be the most optimal one, it’s just the one the market loves and adopts). 

At this stage, the dominant design becomes the standard ‘’de facto’’ design that all companies adhere to. The company that invented it will win big time with their IP! 

Other companies would follow and might lose on their pre-dominant design investment; however, the reward of being the ‘’first mover’’ is worth the risk for many!   

Multiple factors lead to the emergence of a dominant design:

👉 Pressure from market forces or government regulations leads industries to select a dominant design.

👉 A dominant design indicates that a product is stable, so customers are more likely to purchase it.

👉 The emergence of a dominant design marks a technology’s transition into its growth phase.  

A great example of a dominant design is *drum rolls*
the QWERTY Design!   

💡 In 1874, American inventor Christopher Sholes released the typewriter Remington with its keyboard layout almost the same as the QWERTY keyboard layout we use today, with a few minor differences.

💡 The latter was developed to avoid writing jams, effectively allowing the typist to type faster rather than slower.

💡 Although many scientists argue that the QWERTY layout is not the most efficient one, it gained wide market success and is now used in all modern-day standard manufactured English letter keyboards.  

Can you think of any other dominant design? Here’s a hint: you are using it right now! 

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