Dvorak Simplified Keyboard
The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (i// d-VOR-ak) is a keyboard layout patented in 1936 by Dr. August Dvorak and his brother-in-law, Dr. William Dealey. Over the years several slight variations were designed by the team led by Dvorak or by ANSI. These variations have been collectively or individually also called the Simplified Keyboard or American Simplified Keyboard but they all have come to be commonly known as the Dvorak keyboard or Dvorak layout. Dvorak proponents claim the Dvorak layout uses less finger motion, increases typing rate, and reduces errors compared to the standard QWERTY keyboard. This reduction in finger distance traveled was originally purported to permit faster rates of typing, and also in later years, it was purported to reduce repetitive strain injuries.
Although the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK) has failed to displace the QWERTY keyboard, most major modern operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and BSD) allow one to switch to the Dvorak layout, in addition to the standard QWERTY layout.
The layout was completed in 1932 and was granted U.S. Patent 2,040,248 in 1936. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designated the Dvorak keyboard as an alternative standard keyboard layout in 1982; the standard is X3.207:1991 (previously X4.22-1983), "Alternate Keyboard Arrangement for Alphanumeric Machines". The original ANSI Dvorak layout was available as a factory-supplied option on the original IBM Selectric typewriter.[specify]
While it is claimed that the Dvorak layout is ergonomically superior to the QWERTY one, research by economists Stan Liebowotz and Stephen E. Margolis holds that QWERTY emerged through a quite rigorous process of competition and eventual acceptance in the marketplace, and that there is no scientifically reliable evidence for the Dvorak keyboard having any advantage over it.
 Comparison of the QWERTY and Dvorak layouts
 Keyboard strokes
Touch typing requires a typist to rest their hands in the home row (QWERTY row starting with "ASDF"). The more strokes there are in the home row, the less movement the fingers must do, thus allowing a typist to type faster, more accurately, and with less strain to the hand and fingers. Motion picture studies prove not only that typing is done fastest in the home row, but also typing is the slowest on the bottom row. If the fingers must move, it is easier to move them up to the top row (QWERTY row starting with "QWERTY") rather than down to the bottom row (QWERTY row starting with "ZXCV").
It is notable that the vast majority of the Dvorak layout's key strokes (70%) are done in the home row (the easiest row to type because the fingers rest there). In addition, the Dvorak layout requires the fewest strokes on the bottom row (the most difficult row to type). On the other hand, QWERTY requires typists to move their fingers to the top row for a majority of strokes and has only 32% of the strokes done in the home row.
Because the Dvorak layout concentrates the vast majority of key strokes to the home row, the Dvorak layout uses about 63% of the finger motion required by QWERTY, thus making the Dvorak layout more ergonomic. Because the Dvorak layout requires less finger motion from the typist compared to QWERTY, many users with repetitive strain injuries have reported that switching from QWERTY to Dvorak alleviated or even eliminated their repetitive strain injuries.
The typing loads between hands differs for each of the keyboard layouts. On QWERTY keyboards, 56% of the typing strokes are done by the left hand. As the left hand is weaker for the majority of people, the Dvorak keyboard puts the more often used keys on the right hand side, thereby having 56% of the typing strokes done by the right hand.
 Hand alternation
Alternating hands while typing is a desirable trait because while one hand is typing a letter, the other hand can get in position to type the next letter. Thus, a typist may fall into a steady rhythm and type quickly. However, when a string of letters is done with the same hand, the chances of stuttering are increased and a rhythm can be broken, thus decreasing speed and increasing errors and fatigue. The QWERTY layout has more than 3,000 words that are typed on the left hand alone and about 300 words that are typed on the right hand alone (the aforementioned word "minimum" is a right-hand-only word). In contrast, with the Dvorak layout, only a few words are typed using only the left hand and even fewer with the right hand. This is because a syllable requires at least one vowel, and all the vowels (and "y") are on the left side.
 Standard keyboard
QWERTY enjoys advantages over the Dvorak layout due to its position as the de facto standard keyboard:
- Keyboard shortcuts in most major operating systems, including Windows, are designed for QWERTY users and can be awkward for Dvorak users, such as Ctrl-C (Copy) and Ctrl-V (Paste).
- Some public computers (such as in libraries) will not allow users to change the keyboard to the Dvorak layout
- Some standardized exams will not allow test takers to use the Dvorak layout (e.g. Graduate Record Examination)
- Games can prove nearly impossible to play with the default keyboard mapping, especially those which use W,A,S,D as controls.
- People who can touch type with a QWERTY keyboard may be less productive with alternative layouts even if these are more optimal.
August Dvorak was an educational psychologist and professor of education at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Dvorak became interested in the keyboard layout while serving as an advisor to Gertrude Ford, who was writing her master's thesis on typing errors. Touch typing had come into wide use by that time, so when Dvorak studied the QWERTY layout he concluded that the QWERTY layout needed to be replaced. Dvorak was joined by his brother-in-law William Dealey, who was a professor of education at the then North Texas State Teacher's College in Denton, Texas.
Dvorak and Dealey's objective was to scientifically design a keyboard to decrease typing errors, speed up typing, and lessen typer fatigue. They engaged in extensive research while designing their keyboard layout. In 1914 and 1915, Dealey attended seminars on the science of motion and later reviewed slow-motion films of typists with Dvorak. Dvorak and Dealey meticulously studied the English language, researching the most used letters and letter combinations. They also studied the physiology of the hand. The result in 1932 was the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard.
In 1933, Dvorak started entering typists trained on his keyboard into the International Commercial Schools Contest, which were typing contests sponsored by typewriter manufacturers consisting of professional and amateur contests. The professional contests had typists sponsored by typewriter companies to advertise their machines. Ten times from 1934–41, Dvorak's typists won first in their class events. In the 1935 contest alone, nine Dvorak typists won twenty awards. Dvorak typists were so successful that in 1937 the Contest Committee barred Dvorak's typists for being "unfair competition" until Dvorak protested. In addition, QWERTY typists did not want to be placed near Dvorak typists because QWERTY typists were disconcerted by the noise produced from the fast typing speeds made by Dvorak typists.
In the 1930s, the Tacoma, Washington, school district ran an experimental program in typing to determine whether to hold Dvorak layout classes. The experiment used 2,700 students to learn the Dvorak layout, and the district found that the Dvorak layout students learned the keyboard in one-third the time it took to learn QWERTY. However, a new school board was elected and chose to close the Dvorak layout classes.
Writer Barbara Blackburn was the fastest English language typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she was able to maintain 150 words per minute (wpm) for 50 minutes, and 170 wpm for shorter periods. She has been clocked at a peak speed of 212 wpm. Blackburn, who failed her QWERTY typing class in high school, first encountered the Dvorak keyboard in 1938, quickly learned to achieve very high speeds, and occasionally toured giving speed-typing demonstrations during her secretarial career. Blackburn died in April 2008.
 Original Dvorak layout
Over the decades, symbol keys were shifted around the keyboard leading to variations in the Dvorak layout. In 1982, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) implemented a standard for the Dvorak layout known as ANSI X4.22-1983. This standard gave the Dvorak layout official recognition as an alternative to the QWERTY keyboard.
The layout standardized by the ANSI differs from the original or "classic" layout devised and promulgated by Dvorak. Indeed, the layout promulgated publicly by Dvorak differed slightly from the layout for which Dvorak & Dealey applied for a patent in 1932—most notably in the placement of Z. Today's keyboards have more keys than the original typewriter did, and other significant differences existed:
- The numeric keys of the classic Dvorak layout are ordered: 7 5 3 1 9 0 2 4 6 8 (Used by the Programmer Dvorak layout)
- In the classic Dvorak layout, the question mark key [?] is in the leftmost position of the upper row, while the slash key [/] is in the rightmost position of the upper row.
- The following symbols share keys (the second symbol being printed when the SHIFT key is pressed):
- colon [:] and question mark [?]
- ampersand [&] and slash [/].
Modern U.S. keyboard layouts almost always place semicolon and colon together on a single key, and slash and question mark together on a single key. Thus, if the keycaps of a modern keyboard are rearranged so that the unshifted symbol characters match the classic Dvorak layout then, sensibly, the result is the ANSI layout.
 Modern operating systems
 Early PCs
Although some word processors could simulate alternative keyboard layouts through software, this was application-specific; if more than one program was commonly used (e.g., a word processor and a spreadsheet), the user could be forced to switch layouts depending on the application. Occasionally, stickers were provided to place over the keys for these layouts.
However, IBM-compatible PCs used an active, "smart" keyboard, where the keyboard was actually a peripheral device (powered by the keyboard port). Striking a key generated a key "code", which was sent to the computer. Thus, changing to an alternative keyboard layout was most easily accomplished by simply buying a keyboard with the new layout. Because the key codes were generated by the keyboard itself, all software would respond accordingly. In the mid- to late-1980s, a small cottage industry for replacement PC keyboards arose; although most of these were concerned with keyboard "feel" and/or programmable macros, there were several with alternative layouts, such as Dvorak.
Some Amiga operating systems can modify the keyboard layout by opening up the keyboard input preference, and selecting "Dvorak" or "usa2". Earlier Amiga systems also came with the Dvorak keymap available on the "Extras" disk that came with the computer. By copying the keymap to the Workbench disk, editing the startup scripts, and then rebooting, Dvorak was usable in many Workbench application programs.
According to Microsoft, versions of the Windows operating system including Windows 95, Windows NT 3.51 and higher have shipped with support for the U.S. Dvorak layout. Free updates to use the layout on earlier Windows versions are available for download from Microsoft.
In May 2004 Microsoft published an improved version of its Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC version 1.3 – current version is 1.4) that allows anyone to easily create any keyboard layout desired, thus allowing the creation and installation of any international Dvorak keyboard layout such as Dvorak Type II (for German), Svorak (for Swedish) etc.
Another advantage of the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator over third-party tools for installing an international Dvorak layout is that it allows creation of a keyboard layout that automatically switches to standard (QWERTY) after pressing the two hotkeys (SHIFT and CTRL).
 Unix-based systems
Many operating systems based on UNIX, including OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenSolaris, Plan 9, and most Linux distributions, can be configured to use the U.S. Dvorak layout and a handful of variants. However, all current Unix-like systems with X.Org and appropriate keymaps installed (and virtually all systems meant for desktop use include them) are able to use any QWERTY-labeled keyboard as a Dvorak one without any problems or additional configuration. This removes the burden of producing additional keymaps for every variant of QWERTY provided. Runtime layout switching is also possible.
 Apple computers
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Apple had Dvorak advocates since the company's early (pre-IPO) days. Several engineers devised hardware and software to remap the keyboard, which were used inside the company and even sold commercially.
 Apple II
The Apple II had a keyboard ROM that translated keystrokes into characters. The ROM contained both QWERTY and Dvorak layouts, but the QWERTY layout was enabled by default. A modification could be made by pulling out the ROM, bending up four pins, soldering a resistor between two pins, soldering two others to a pair of wires connected to a DIP switch, which was installed in a pre-existing hole in the back of the machine, then plugging the modified ROM back in its socket. The "hack" was reversible and did no damage. By flipping a switch on the machine's back panel, the user could switch from one layout to the other. This modification was entirely unofficial but was inadvertently demonstrated at the 1984 Comdex show, in Las Vegas, by an Apple employee whose mission was to demonstrate Apple Logo II. The employee had become accustomed to the Dvorak layout and brought the necessary parts to the show, installed them in a demo machine, then did his Logo demo. Viewers, curious that he always reached behind the machine before and after allowing other people to type, asked him about the modification. He spent as much time explaining the Dvorak keyboard as explaining Logo.
Apple brought new interest to the Dvorak layout with the Apple IIc, which had a mechanical switch above the keyboard whereby the user could switch back and forth between the QWERTY layout and the Dvorak layout: this was the most official version of the IIe Dvorak mod. The IIc Dvorak layout was even mentioned in 1984 ads, which stated that the World's Fastest Typist, Barbara Blackburn, had set a record on an Apple IIc with the Dvorak layout.
The Dvorak layout was also selectable using the built-in control panel applet on the Apple IIGS.
 Apple III
The Apple III used a keyboard-layout file loaded from a floppy disk: the standard system-software package included QWERTY and Dvorak layout files. Changing layouts required restarting the machine.
 Apple Lisa
The Apple Lisa did not support the Dvorak keyboard mapping, though it was purportedly available through undocumented interfaces.
 Mac OS
In its early days, the Macintosh could be converted to the Dvorak layout by making changes to the "System" file: this was not easily reversible and required restarting the machine. This modification was highly unofficial, but it was comparable to many other user-modifications and customizations that Mac users made. Using the "resource editor", ResEdit, users could create keyboard layouts, icons, and other useful items. A few years later, a third-party developer offered a utility program called MacKeymeleon, which put a menu on the menu bar that allowed on-the-fly switching of keyboard layouts. Eventually, Apple Macintosh engineers built the functionality of this utility into the standard System Software, along with a few layouts: QWERTY, Dvorak, French (AZERTY), and other foreign-language layouts.
Since about 1998, beginning with Mac OS 8.6, Apple has included the Dvorak layout. It can be activated with the Keyboard Control Panel and selecting "Dvorak". The setting is applied once the Control Panel is closed out. Keyboard layouts can be switched back and forth by firmly pressing ⌘ + Space or ⌘ + Option + Space. Apple also includes a Dvorak variant they call "Dvorak – Qwerty ⌘". With this layout, the keyboard temporarily becomes QWERTY when the Command (⌘/Apple) key is held down. By keeping familiar keyboard shortcuts like "close" or "copy" on the same keys as ordinary QWERTY, this lets some people use their well-practiced muscle memory and may make the transition easier. Mac OS and subsequently Mac OS X allows additional "on-the-fly" switching between layouts: a menu-bar icon (by default, a national flag that matches the current language, a 'DV' represents Dvorak and a 'DQ' represents Dvorak – Qwerty ⌘) brings up a drop-down menu, allowing the user to choose the desired layout. Subsequent keystrokes will reflect the choice, which can be reversed the same way.
 Mobile phones and PDAs
A number of mobile phones today are built with either full QWERTY keyboards or software implementations of them on a touch screen. Sometimes the keyboard layout can be changed by means of a freeware third-party utility, such as Hacker's Keyboard for Android, AE Keyboard Mapper for Windows Mobile, or KeybLayout for Symbian OS.
Through its history the Dvorak layout and the benefits it claims have come under much scrutiny. Many claim that the experiments determining its superiority in terms of speed of typing are biased, with the most famous being conducted by Dvorak himself, and insufficiently rigorous. One major test in 1956 conducted by the U.S. General Service Administration found Dvorak no more efficient than QWERTY.
Economists Stan Liebowotz and Stephen E. Margolis have written articles in the Journal of Law and Economics and Reason magazine where they reject Dvorak proponents' claims that the dominance of the QWERTY is due to market failure brought on by QWERTY's early adoption, writing, "The QWERTY keyboard cannot be said to constitute evidence of any systematic tendency for markets to err. Very simply, no competing keyboard has offered enough advantage to warrant a change. The story of Dvorak's superiority is a myth or, perhaps more properly, a hoax."
 Resistance to adoption
Although the Dvorak layout is the only other keyboard layout registered with ANSI and is provided with all major operating systems, attempts to convert universally to the Dvorak layout have not succeeded. The failure of the Dvorak layout to displace the QWERTY layout has been the subject of some studies.
In 1956, a General Services Administration study by Earle Strong, which included an experiment involving ten experienced government typists, concluded that Dvorak training would never be able to amortize its costs. The study was a large obstacle for the wide adoption of Dvorak for many firms and government agencies. One criticism of the experiment is that it did not involve any beginning typists; however, Liebowitz notes that it parallels the decision that a real firm or government agency would need to make: Is it worthwhile to retrain its present typists?
A discussion of the Dvorak layout is sometimes used as an exercise by management consultants to illustrate the difficulties of change. The Dvorak layout is often used in economics textbooks as a standard example of network effects.
 One-handed versions
During the 1960s, Dvorak applied a similar approach of minimizing distance traveled when he designed quite different arrangements for touch-typing with only the left hand or with only the right hand. This can provide increased accessibility to single-handed users who might struggle with excessive lateral hand movement when using two-handed keyboards. Note that the right-handed and left-handed Dvorak layouts not only differ from each other dramatically, but also differ from two-handed Dvorak layout quite dramatically as well. Some users with full use of both hands enjoy the ability to simultaneously type with only a single hand while concurrently controlling a mouse with the other hand, or in the case of police officers, operating vehicular controls with their left hand while touch-typing with their right hand on a dashboard-mounted laptop computer. The arrangements have been designed for each hand to minimize distance traveled by fingers as well as to minimize lateral distance traveled by the hand as a whole. Note that the hand is intended to rest near the center of the keyboard in order to reach the entire keyboard, eliminating the need for the split ergonomic keyboard layout.
Note that the left-handed Dvorak and right-handed Dvorak keyboard layouts are substantially mirror images of each other, with the exception of keys that are wider than the normal keys and the tilde–grave-accent key. Some left-handed Dvorak keyboards have ")(" in strict compliance with the mirror-image concept whereas others have "()" in the customary order. Shown at the right is Dvorak's original ")(" placement of the parentheses, which is the more widely-distributed layout, such as the one that Microsoft supplies with Windows.
 Notable users
- Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth novels, often wrote in the 1980s author's notes in the books about how his Dvorak use prevented him from converting to a word processor. This was made even more difficult because he uses an alternative Dvorak layout (swapping the hyphen and apostrophe keys – the apostrophe key on his keyboard is where the hyphen key is on a standard U.S. keyboard (and vice-versa).
- Barbara Blackburn, world typing speed record holder
- Bram Cohen, inventor of BitTorrent
- Terry Goodkind, author of The Sword of Truth
- Holly Lisle, American author
- Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress
- Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft
- Steve Wozniak, co-founder Apple Computer
- Eliezer Yudkowsky, artificial intelligence researcher and writer
 See also
- Dvorak encoding
- Kinesis contoured keyboard
- Maltron keyboard
- Path dependence
- TypeMatrix keyboard
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- ^ a b Strong, E.P. (1956). A Comparative Experiment in Simplified Keyboard Retraining and Standard Keyboard Supplementary Training. Washington, D.C.: General Services Administration
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- ^ Cassingham 1986, pp. 32–35
- ^ a b Robert Parkinson. "The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard: Forty Years of Frustration". http://infohost.nmt.edu/~shipman/ergo/parkinson.html. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- ^ "Barbara Blackburn, the World's Fastest Typist". Archived from the original on 2007-08-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20070805092632/http://rcranger.mysite.syr.edu/famhist/blackburn.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- ^ Cassingham 1986, pp. 35–37
- ^ Microsoft.com: Alternative Keyboard Layouts
- ^ "Download details: Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC) Version 1.3.4073". Microsoft.com. 2004-05-20. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=FB7B3DCD-D4C1-4943-9C74-D8DF57EF19D7&displaylang=en. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- ^ "The Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator". Msdn.microsoft.com. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/goglobal/bb964665.aspx. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- ^ Liebowitz, Stan J.; Stephen E. Margolis (April 1990). "The Fable of the Keys". Journal of Law & Economics 33 (1): 1–25. doi:10.1086/467198. http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html.
- ^ Kissel, Joe. "The Dvorak Keyboard Controversy". http://itotd.com/articles/651/the-dvorak-keyboard-controversy/. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- ^ http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html
- ^ a b 1996
- ^ David, Paul A. (May 1985). "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY". American Economic Review 75: 332–37. and David, Paul A. (1986). "Understanding the Economics of QWERTY: The Necessity of History.". In W. N Parker.. Economic History and the Modern Economist. New York: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0631147993.
- ^ Liebowitz, Stan J.; Stephen E. Margolis (April 1990). "The Fable of the Keys". Journal of Law & Economics 33 (1): 1–25. doi:10.1086/467198. http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html. Retrieved 2007-09-19. "We show that David's version of the history of the market's rejection of Dvorak does not report the true history, and we present evidence that the continued use of Qwerty is efficient given the current understanding of keyboard design."
- ^ Brooks, Marcus W. (December 8, 1996). "The Fable of the Fable". http://www.mwbrooks.com/dvorak/dissent.html. Retrieved 2007-09-19. a pro-Dvorak rebuttal of Liebowitz & Margolis
- ^ "US Balks at Teaching Old Typists New Keys". New York Times. 1956-07-02.
- ^ Liebowitz, Stan J. and Margolis, Stephen E. (2001). "The Fable of the Keys". Winners, Losers and Microsoft. Oakland, Calif.: Independent Inst.. p. 30. ISBN 0945999844.
- ^ Clements, M.T. (2005). "Inefficient Standard Adoption: Inertia and Momentum Revisited". Economic Inquiry 43 (3): 507–518.
- ^ Liebowitz, S.J.; S.E. Margolis (1994). "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy". The Journal of Economic Perspectives 8 (2): 133–150.
- ^ Dvorak inauthor:Piers Anthony
- ^ "Barbara Blackburn, the World's Fastest Typist". Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. http://web.archive.org/web/20080609055056/http://rcranger.mysite.syr.edu/famhist/blackburn.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-08.
- ^ Cohen, Bram (March 7, 2006). "Keyboard Switching". http://bramcohen.livejournal.com/30675.html. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- ^ "Terry Goodkind – Interviews and Past Chats". Archived from the original on 2007-06-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20070605135708/http://www.prophets-inc.com/the_author/pi2.html. Retrieved 2007-08-20. "I type on a dvorak keyboard layout..."
- ^ Holly Lisle. "Dvorak & Me – Three Months Later". http://hollylisle.com/index.php/Writing-Life/dvorak-a-me-three-months-later.html. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- ^ Mullenweg, Matt (August 31, 2003). "On the Dvorak Keyboard Layout". http://ma.tt/2003/08/on-the-dvorak-keyboard-layout/. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- ^ "Dvorak Typists – Matt Mullenweg". Ma.tt. 2007-05-25. http://ma.tt/2007/05/dvorak-typists/. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- ^ "Slashdot Comments | Dvorak Layout Claimed Not Superior To QWERTY". Hardware.slashdot.org. 2009-01-18. http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1096247&cid=26511091. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- ^ http://lesswrong.com/lw/453/procedural_knowledge_gaps/3igl
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Dvorak keyboard layouts|
- DvZine.org – A print and webcomic zine advocating the Dvorak Keyboard and teaching its history.
- A Basic Course in Dvorak – by Dan Wood
- LinkedIn group of Dvorak users
- Dvorak vs Qwerty – Online tool that compares the efficiency of the Dvorak layout and the standard Qwerty layout.
-  – Comparison of common optimal keyboard layouts, including Dvorak.