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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 is claimed to permit faster rates of typing while reducing repetitive strain injuries, though this has been called into question.
Although the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK) has failed to replace the QWERTY keyboard, most major modern operating systems (such as Windows, OS X, Linux, and BSD) allow a user to switch to the Dvorak layout.
The Dvorak layout was designed to replace the QWERTY keyboard layout (the de facto standard keyboard layout, so named for the starting letters in the top row). The Dvorak layout was designed in the belief that it would significantly increase typing speeds over the QWERTY layout. The original QWERTY keyboard suffers from many problems that Dvorak himself identified:
Dvorak studied letter frequencies and the physiology of people's hands and created a layout to alleviate the problems he identified with the QWERTY layout. The layout he created adheres to these principles:
The Dvorak layout is intended for the English language. In other European languages, letter frequencies, letter sequences, and digraphs differ from those of English. Also, many languages have letters that do not occur in English. For non-English use, these differences lessen the supposed advantages of the original Dvorak keyboard. However, the Dvorak principles have been applied to the design of keyboards for other languages, though the primary keyboards used by most countries are based on the QWERTY design.
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 INCITS 207-1991 (R2007) (previously X4.22-1983, X3.207:1991), "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]
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 to 1941, 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 designed by Dvorak 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. When a new school board was elected, however, it chose to close the Dvorak layout classes. During World War II, while in the Navy Dvorak conducted experiments which he claimed showed that typists could be retrained to Dvorak in a mere 10 days, though he discarded at least two previous studies which were conducted and whose results are unknown.
With such great apparent gains, interest in the Dvorak keyboard layout increased by the early 1950s. Numerous businesses and government organizations began to consider retraining their typists on Dvorak keyboards. In this environment, the General Services Administration commissioned Earle Strong to determine whether the switch from QWERTY to Dvorak should be made. After retraining a selection of typists from QWERTY to Dvorak, once the Dvorak group had regained their previous typing speed (which took 100 hours of training, considerably more than was claimed in the Navy test conducted by Dvorak), Strong took a second group of QWERTY typists chosen for equal ability to the Dvorak group and retrained them in QWERTY in order to improve their speed at the same time the Dvorak typists were training. The carefully controlled study failed to show any benefit to the Dvorak keyboard layout in typing or training speed. Strong recommended retraining QWERTY typists in order to increase their speed over switching, and attributed the previous apparent benefits of Dvorak to improper experimental design and outright bias on the part of Dvorak, who had designed and run the previous studies. Interest in the Dvorak keyboard layout subsequently waned. Later experiments have shown that many keyboard layouts, including some alphabetical ones, allow very similar typing speeds to QWERTY and Dvorak when typists have been trained in them, suggesting that the basic design principles underlying Dvorak may have failed to produce results because typing is a very complicated physical activity.
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:
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.
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. Her records have since been surpassed by typists using QWERTY keyboards.
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 enable the user to 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.
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).
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.
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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.
The Apple IIe 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
The RIM BlackBerry lines support only QWERTY and its localized variants AZERTY and QWERTZ. Apple's iOS 4.0 supports external Dvorak keyboards. Google's Android OS touchscreen keyboard supports Dvorak and other nonstandard layouts natively as of version 4.1.
Touch typing requires a typist to rest their fingers 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").
The vast majority of the Dvorak layout's key strokes (70%) are done in the home row, claimed to be 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, which is claimed to make the keyboard more ergonomic. Because the Dvorak layout requires less finger motion from the typist compared to QWERTY, some users with repetitive strain injuries have reported that switching from QWERTY to Dvorak alleviated or even eliminated their repetitive strain injuries; however, no scientific study has been conducted verifying this.
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 right hand is dominant 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.
Awkward strokes are undesirable because they slow down typing, increase typing errors, and increase finger strain. Hurdling is an awkward stroke requiring a single finger to jump directly from one row, over the home row to another row (e.g., typing "minimum" (which often comes out as "minimun" or "mimimum") on the QWERTY keyboard). In the English language, there are about 1,200 words that require a hurdle on the QWERTY layout. In contrast, there are only a few words requiring a hurdle on the Dvorak layout and even fewer requiring a double hurdle.
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. On the other hand, 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. Likewise, using the same finger to type consecutive letters is also to be avoided. 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 use the right hand alone. This is because most syllables require at least one vowel, and, in a Dvorak layout, all the vowels (and "y") fall on the left side of the keyboard. However, this statistic is deeply misleading and largely an artifact of Dvorak's choice to place all vowels on one hand; in reality, the QWERTY keyboard is also designed for hand alternation and does quite well at maximizing alternation and minimizing same-finger sequences.
QWERTY enjoys advantages over the Dvorak layout due to its position as the de facto standard keyboard:
Additionally, there are other factors which grant QWERTY an advantage:
The time it takes to learn the Dvorak layout will vary based upon the age of the student and if he has previous fluency with other keyboard layouts. One empirical study found that for a user with a previous averaging typing speed of 100 WPM on QWERTY, it took one year to reach the same level of proficiency.
In the 1960s, Dvorak designed the left- and right-handed Dvorak layouts for touch-typing with only one hand. He tried to minimize the need to move the hand from side to side (lateral travel), as well as to minimize finger movement. Each layout has the hand resting near the center of the keyboard, rather than on one side.
Because the layouts require less hand movement than layouts designed for two hands, they can be more accessible to single-handed users. The layouts are also used by people with full use of two hands, who enjoy having one hand free while they type with the other.
The left-handed Dvorak and right-handed Dvorak keyboard layouts are mostly each other's mirror image, with the exception of some punctuation keys, some of the less-used letters, and the ‘wide keys’ (Enter, Shift, etc.). Dvorak arranged the parentheses ")(" on his left-handed keyboard, but some keyboards place them in the typical "()" reading order. Illustrated here is Dvorak's original ")(" placement, above; it is the more widely distributed layout, not least because it is the one that ships with Windows.
Through its history the Dvorak layout and the benefits it claims have come under much scrutiny. Many of the experiments determining its superiority in terms of speed of typing are not experimentally rigorous or outright biased, with the most famous being conducted by Dvorak and his associates. In 1956, a study with a sample of 10 people in each group conducted by Earle Strong of the U.S. General Services Administration found Dvorak no more efficient than QWERTY and claimed it would be too costly to retrain the employees. The failure of the study to show any benefit to switching, along with its illustration of the considerable cost of switching, discouraged businesses and governments from making the switch. The study has been criticized as being unfairly biased in favor of the QWERTY control group.
Economists Stan Liebowitz 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, "[T]he evidence in the standard history of Qwerty versus Dvorak is flawed and incomplete. [..] The most dramatic claims are traceable to Dvorak himself; and the best-documented experiments, as well as recent ergonomic studies, suggest little or no advantage for the Dvorak keyboard." Most keyboards around the world are based on QWERTY layouts, despite the availability of other keyboard layouts, including Dvorak.
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.
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, though this approach has been criticized.
Although DSK is implemented in many languages other than English, there are still potential issues. Every Dvorak implementation in other languages leaves the Roman characters in the same position as the English DSK. However, other (occidental) language orthographies can clearly have other typing needs for optimization (many are very different from English). Because Dvorak Simplified Keyboard was optimized for the statistical distribution of letters in English text, keyboards for other languages would likely have drastically different distributions of letter frequencies. Hence, non-QWERTY-derived keyboards for such languages would need a keyboard layout that might look quite different from the Dvorak layout for English.
An implementation for Swedish, known as Svorak, places the three extra Swedish vowels (å, ä and ö) on the leftmost three keys of the upper row, which correspond to punctuation symbols on the English Dvorak layout. These punctuation symbols are then juggled with other keys, and the Alt-Gr key is required to access some of them.
Another Swedish version, Svdvorak by Gunnar Parment, keeps the punctuation symbols as they were in the English version; the first extra vowel (å) is placed in the far left of the top row while the other two (ä and ö) are placed at the far left of the bottom row.
The Swedish variant that most closely resembles the American Dvorak layout is Thomas Lundqvist's sv_dvorak, which places å, ä and ö like Parment's layout, but keeps the American placement of most special characters.
The Norwegian implementation (known as "Norsk Dvorak") is similar to Parment's layout, with "æ" and "ø" replacing "ä" and "ö".
The Danish layout DanskDvorak is similar to the Norwegian.
An Icelandic Dvorak layout exists, created by a student at Reykjavik University. It retains the same basic layout as the standard Dvorak but features special Alt-Gr functions to allow easy usage for common characters such as "þ", "æ", "ö" and dead-keys to allow the writing of characters such as "å" and "ü".
A Finnish DAS keyboard layout follows many of Dvorak's design principles, but the layout is an original design based on the most common letters and letter combinations in the Finnish language. Matti Airas has also made another layout for Finnish. Finnish can also be typed reasonably well with the English Dvorak layout if the letters ä and ö are added. The Finnish ArkkuDvorak keyboard layout adds both on a single key and keeps the American placement for each other character. As with DAS, the SuoRak keyboard is designed by the same principles as the Dvorak keyboard, but with the most common letters of the Finnish language taken into account. Contrary to DAS, it keeps the vowels on the left side of the keyboard and most consonants on the right hand side.
The Turkish F keyboard layout (link) is also an original design with Dvorak's design principles, however it's not clear if it is inspired by Dvorak or not. Turkish F keyboard was standardized in 1955 and the layout has been a requirement for imported typewriters since 1963.
There are some non standard Brazilian Dvorak keyboard layouts currently in development. The simpler design (also called BRDK) is just a Dvorak layout plus some keys from the Brazilian ABNT2 keyboard layout. Another design, however, was specifically designed for writing Brazilian Portuguese, by means of a study that optimized typing statistics, like frequent letters, trigraphs and words.
The most common German Dvorak layout is the German Type II layout. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. There is also the Neo layout and the de ergo layout, both original layouts that also follow many of Dvorak's design principles. Because of the similarity of both languages, even the standard Dvorak layout (with minor modifications) is an ergonomic improvement over the common QWERTZ layout. One such modification puts ß at the shift+comma position and the umlaut dots as a dead key accessible via shift+period (standard German keyboards have a separate less/greater key to the right of the left shift key).
For French, there is a Dvorak layout and the Bépo layout, which is founded on Dvorak's method of analysing key frequency. Although Bépo's placement of keys is optimised for French, the scheme also facilitates key combinations for typing characters of other European languages, Esperanto and various symbols.
A Greek version of the Dvorak layout was released on Saint Valentine's Day 2007. This layout, unlike other Greek Dvorak layouts, preserves the spirit of Dvorak wherein the vowel keys are all placed on the left side of the keyboard. Currently this version is for Mac OS X.
An Italian Mac layout, optimized for this language and with all the accented vowels on the left, is being developed by Paolo Tramannoni. Several PC versions, consisting in the original layout with accented vowels added, are also being developed.
A Romanian version of the Dvorak layout was released in October 2008. It is available for both Windows and Linux.
Whether Dvorak or QWERTY, a United Kingdom (British) keyboard differs from the U.S. equivalent in these ways: the " and @ are swapped; the backslash/pipe [\ |] key is in an extra position (to the right of the lower left shift key); there is a taller return/enter key, which places the hash/tilde [# ~] key to its lower left corner (see picture).
The most notable difference between the U.S. and UK Dvorak layouts is the [2 "] key remains on the top row, whereas the U.S. [' "] key moves. This means that the query [/ ?] key retains its classic Dvorak location, top left, albeit shifted.
Interchanging the [/ ?] and [' @] keys more closely matches the U.S. layout, and the use of "@" has increased in the information technology age. These variations, plus keeping the numerals in Dvorak's idealised order, appear in the Classic Dvorak and Dvorak for the Left Hand and Right Hand varieties.
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