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Definition: QWERTY keyboard

The standard English language typewriter keyboard. Q, W, E, R, T and Y are the letters on the top left, alphabetic row. Designed by Christopher Sholes, who invented the typewriter, the keyboard layout was organized to prevent people from typing too fast and jamming the keys. The QWERTY layout was included in the drawing for Sholes' patent application in 1878. See keyboard types and typewriter.


     Q W E R T Y U I O P
      A S D F G H J K L ; '   Home Row
       Z X C V B N M , . /

QWERTY Goes Way Back
This Hammond Multiplex typewriter, which used a QWERTY keyboard, was offered in 1913 with two fonts that could be quickly switched. (Equipment courtesy of Dorothy Hearn.)

They Do Jam
Even QWERTY keys could jam if the person was a careless typist.