TypeMatrix and Dvorak
The current QWERTY keyboard was designed in 1872 for two fingered "hunt and peck" typists. But it became the standard and has survived to the 21st Century basically unchanged.
August Dvorak invented the Simplified Keyboard (as he called it) in 1932 as a result of exhaustive time and motion studies. The Dvorak Keyboard (as the Simplified Keyboard is now known) has been only marginally necessary until the widespread use of computers.
Now, Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) are a major factor for anyone who spends even a few hours a day working with a keyboard. The Dvorak Layout reduces finger movement by more than 50%, and hence is "just what the doctor ordered" for those suffering RSI.
Users of the Dvorak Keyboard may be faster and make fewer errors than an equally qualified QWERTY typist, but most importantly, stress on the fingers, hands and wrists is greatly reduced.
TypeMatrix EZ-Reach keyboards are ALL switchable to Dvorak without any software.
To find out more about Dvorak from real enthusiasts visit The Dvorak zine.
Here's more information about Dvorak:
In the beginning...In 1872, when Christopher Sholes invented the first practical typewriter, he was faced with a serious problem: his typists constantly jammed their machines. They were typing too fast. Because typewriting mechanisms were bulky and heavy, those early machines were designed to be typed using only the two index fingers, with what came to be known as the Columbus method. The typist "discovered" the location of a key and hit that key with the index finger. We now call this method Hunt and Peck. Sholes had to solve this problem of jammed machines. His solution was the only one available to him: he rearranged the keys to slow down the typists! That keyboard layout is still in use today, 125 years later. We know this keyboard layout as the QWERTY keyboard, named for the layout of the keyboard's first six letters.
Touch typing (using all 10 fingers) started to catch on in the 1880s. The QWERTY layout was the only layout then available, so it became the standard. But QWERTY had serious problems, having never been designed for touch typing. Even Sholes recognized this truth, and in 1889, he was granted a patent for an improved layout. But the QWERTY keyboard layout was firmly entrenched, and thus it remained the standard.
1930's - Dvorak creates simplified keyboard.As the industrial revolution reached its zenith, time and motion studies became all important. Reducing the time necessary and the motion required to complete a specific task meant higher quality products, cheaper labor costs and hence cheaper prices. In the early 1900s, researchers Frank and Lillian Gilbreth made slow motion films of expert typists at work. These films made their way to Professor August Dvorak via Dvorak's bother-in-law, William Dealey. Both men immediately saw the problems inherent in the QWERTY keyboard. Typist's speeds were limited and they made too many mistakes. But more importantly, they became quickly fatigued, and they suffered pain and soreness. Today we call these symptoms Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). Dvorak and Dealey set about to minimize these problems and by 1932, had a keyboard layout that reduced finger movement an order of magnitude (10 times). Furthermore, the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (as Dvorak called it) enhanced speed, and reduced errors. But the Depression was at its deepest point, and nobody could afford to buy new typewriters. Dvorak's layout had to wait.
During World War II, the Navy did in-depth studies, which showed without any doubt, the Dvorak layout was vastly superior to the QWERTY layout. But again, the standard layout was too standard. The Dvorak Layout was set aside. By now, the name Dvorak Simplified Keyboard had evolved to Dvorak.
In the early 1970s, interest in the Dvorak Layout once again came into the public consciousness. Several magazines published articles dealing with the advantages and improvements that the Dvorak Layout could offer. Both the Saturday Review and Writer's Digest explored the subject in considerable detail. The typewriter manufacturer Smith-Corona was convinced that the Dvorak Layout's time had arrived and offered all of its typewriters in either QWERTY or Dvorak. Smith-Corona charged only $5 for Dvorak in its portable models, and no charge for the rest of its typewriter line. But interest in the Dvorak Layout waned and died. Unfortunately, in 1975, August Dvorak passed away leaving his goal of a widespread simplified keyboard undone.
The computer Age...Enter the PC age and Apple computer. The Apple IIe had the Dvorak layout inside, waiting. But Apple did not tell anybody how make the "other" keyboard work. Then the Apple IIc was introduced, with a QWERTY/Dvorak switch right there in front where everybody could see and use it. Most buyers of the IIc were vaguely aware of the QWERTY/Dvorak switch, but without an explanation of the Dvorak option, most people ignored Dvorak. Even Microsoft had the Dvorak keyboard available to its customers, but prior to the first version of Windows, the keyboard mapping within the computer had to be modified during the boot-up process. When Windows came on the scene, some Apple computer alumni brought with them the idea of multiple keyboards to Microsoft, and as a result, Dvorak, along with many other international keyboard layouts is available through Windows: Settings - Control Panel - Keyboard - Language - Properties. There are even Dvorak layouts for one-handed typists, left or right.
The disadvantage of Windows layout translation is that it is dependent on the Operating System, in this case, Windows. Thus, leaving Windows also leaves behind Dvorak. This is particularly troublesome if one uses MS-DOS or Linux. With the DvortyBoard and the TypeMatrix keyboards, the keyboard in use becomes invisible to the computer and the operating system it is using. The user has the option of switching the keyboard layout at any time.
The learning curve is not particularly steep. Any typist of any reasonable ability probably spent most of a year in high school or college reaching a speed of 40 words per minute with an acceptable error rate. But much of that learning was not just key location. A new typist must learn hand position, finger movement and force, and rhythm (beginning typing classes type to music). Good typists type letter combinations, not just individual letters. Much of this typing is automatic: thinking of a word, with the fingers then hitting the proper keys, in the proper sequence. This concept is sometimes referred to as "muscle memory". Although the term is a misnomer, the concept is solid.
So, regardless of what keyboard layout you have initially learned, a large portion of that initial education transfers to another keyboard layout. An accomplished QWERTY typist will take, on average, about 100 hours to make the transition. This includes productivity lost in early training and productivity later regained as proficiency is obtained. Once the transition is made, the Dvorak typist will usually type faster, with a lower error rate and with reduced fatigue and injury. If you type up to several hours per day, your total transition time will be less. Learning the Dvorak Layout is dependent more on learning key location than how to type. Thus, remembering where the keys are located is what takes the time. Short, daily practice sessions will minimize the transition time. Some touch-typists have learned Dvorak in 25 hours. Being a poor QWERTY touch-typist may be an advantage. Barbara Blackburn failed her High School Typing class. She switched to the Dvorak Keyboard 60 years ago, and was the world's fastest typist at over 200 words per minute! Now in her 80's, she still types 160+ wpm. The downside to learning Dvorak is that QWERTY must be suppressed. There is a difficult time during the transition in which both sets of keyboard layouts are held in the brain, and may be confused while typing. Practice and commitment will overcome this temporary confusion. Some typists are able to maintain accuracy in both layouts, but we do not recommend that this be an expected outcome.
Considerable data, collected by Dvorak, shows that a new typist learning the Dvorak layout, will learn that layout much faster than a new typist learning the Qwerty layout. The Navy investigated the Dvorak layout for this reason. They needed more and faster typists. But bureaucratic inertia prevented Dvorak from being adopted.
TypeMatrix knows that change of this magnitude is not always practical. Nor is the changing of the keyboard layout through the Windows interface particularly convenient. QWERTY has been the long time standard, and many proficient as well as occasional typists are understandably reluctant to change what they already know. But standard is not always better. If you are experiencing pain or fatigue, have RSI as a result of typing, or would like to increase your speed and accuracy, the Dvorak keyboard is for you. And with TypeMatrix EZ-Reach keyboards, you can have the best of both worlds, at the same time. The keyboards allow you to make the change by pressing and holding the "Function" key and tapping the "Dvorak" key. As an added bonus, your computer will not know or care which keyboard layout you are using. All of our keyboard models currently have a Standard PS/2 connector and we include a free USB adapter/converter that allows the keyboard to also work with Mac and SUN systems (For maximum compatibility with Mac systems we recommend purchasing the Belkin USB adapter - available on the order page). Your computer will think it is connected to any standard keyboard, but you can type using QWERTY or Dvorak.
Articles about Dvorak
I used to be horrible at typing. In my line of work, such lack of typing skills really gets in the way. I bought a Dvorak version of TypeMatrix and I have never looked back. I love the 2030 keyboard. Whenever I have to use another keyboard I just wish that I had my 2030 with me. You get what you pay for.Marcin Zalewski, Professor
I am very pleased with the skins! I must confess that I was a bit skeptical about them at first, but the skins allow me to type as usual, they keep the keys free from dust, and they never cause extra keyboard mistypings so after a week of heavy usage I have nothing to complain about.H. Algestam, Dvorak Advocate
Thanks to your keyboard, my typing speed has improved and my fingers don't get cramped; I am unable to type at all on 'normal' keyboards without cursing and staring at my fingers, hehe.Jano Lukac, Business Broker
I suffered with carpal tunnel in both wrists for many years, until I discovered the ergonomic benefits of the TypeMatrix keyboard. Once I re-learned the placement of a few keys and the benefits of a shorter distance between my mouse and my keyboard, my pain greatly diminished.Wendy Millstine, Acquisitions Editor
Your keyboard is revolutionary and I can't imagine going back to a regular keyboard. I notice my hands no longer pronate and supinate to meet the demands of the awkward typewriter style keyboards. This has made typing much less strenuous for extended programming sessions.Jarom Lee, Programmer
I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to tell you this, but I am in absolute HEAVEN since receiving the keyboard! My learning curve was well under a week. You certainly do have an outstanding product!Nina Cuccurullo, Medical Transcriptionist
Before using the TypeMatrix keyboard I often had stiff wrists, thumbs, elbows and shoulders after doing a long job on the computer. Yesterday I realized that I've had no aches and pains since I bought the new keyboard. What a blessing!Pam Free, Website Designer
I appreciate all the work you've put into the boards, and my wrists thank you.Andrew Stroscher, Screenwriter