So I’m typing this up on my fantastic Dell XPS touch screen Ultrabook, the problem is I have to not look at the keyboard! My wonderful college in Germany sent me the Dell, and there was a slight sinking sensation in my stomach when I opened the box and saw the keyboard, why are the letters in the wrong place?! In many European countries the “QWERTZ” keyboard is used and not the “QWERTY”, they all drive on the wrong side of the road and they have letters place incorrectly… honestly.
I was interested to discover why the QWERTZ keyboard was used in other countries. My understanding, which I confirmed with a quick Wikipedia search, is that the keyboard layout was originally designed so as to allow the levers on a typewriter enough space and to have the most commonly used letters further apart from one another. On traditional typewriters, they were prone to jamming when keys close to each other were pressed at the same time, or in quick succession.
Although QWERTY is the most common, many studies have been performed to try and determine what layout is the most efficient. The most popular alternative layout is called Dvorak and was designed to reduce finger movement, thus faster speeds and a lower risk of repetitive strain injury. Further Wikipedia reading informs me that Barbara Blackburn, the world record holder for touch typing, as well as Steve Wozinak co-founder of Apple both used the DVORAK layout.
Despite all the different choices available to me, I think I will stay with good old QWERTY!