In which countries is the QWERTY keyboard used?
QWERTZ explanation and definition
The typewriter as the starting point for the QWERTY keyboard
The reason for the keyboard layout deviating from the normal alphabet in mechanical typewriters was to prevent the individual type levers from getting stuck when typing quickly. The main purpose of the keyboard layout was to ensure that letters that were often to be hit in a row were not too close to one another. According to an anecdote with a possibly true core, Typewriter, as an English term for the typewriter, should also be able to be written with the characters of a single row so that the salespeople could use this word to demonstrate the ease of use of the machines.
The QWERTZ keyboard layout for teleprinters and word processing systems
The special feature of teleprinters was that the sending and receiving bodies had to use the same character set. So that telex can also be sent to foreign recipients, special characters that are only available in a few languages were consistently dispensed with. Thus, the umlauts were replaced by the basic letter plus e, while the ß was commonly referred to as ss, but consistently used by the Bundeswehr as sz. In the 1980s, devices between a typewriter and a computer were temporarily sold. These saved at least one line before printing, and some were already equipped with a floppy disk drive. The type wheel could be exchanged on these devices, so that for the first time the keyboard layout did not necessarily have to match the keyboard lettering.
The QWERTY keyboard in other German-speaking countries
In Austria, the same keyboard layout is used as in Germany, while in Switzerland a QWERTZ keyboard with the additional special characters of French is used. Both QWERTZ and AZERTY keyboards are in use in Luxembourg. In addition to French and German, Luxembourgish is one of the official languages there, but the character Ë was not used on earlier typewriters. Even with today's computers, this is not part of the usual Luxembourg keyboard layout, but is inserted as a special character.
Typewriter keyboards were not standardized in Germany either
Despite the almost exclusive use of QWERTY keyboards, there were consistently differences between the various keyboard layouts. It is best known that not all devices had their own key for the number 0, so that the capital O was often used as a substitute for numbers. Typewriters were also available in border areas, which were optimized for both the German language and the official language of the neighboring country. For example, specialist shops in Schleswig-Holstein sold typewriters with a QWERTZ keyboard layout that had the ß and the Danish special characters. German umlauts were generated on these devices by means of an additional dead key, which first printed the dots.
No restriction by the QWERTY keyboard layout on the computer
With a typewriter, it was only possible to write characters that were actually intended in the keyboard layout, provided that it was not possible to create characters in individual cases. The Ç was composed of a C, the backspace key and a comma. This restriction does not apply to computers, because all characters that are not available on the QWERTY keyboard can be used in any document using the Insert Special Characters function. In addition, most characters can be generated using the Alt + Gr keys and the numeric keypad. Entering special characters as HTML code is also possible, but most computer users find it cumbersome. The only requirement for entering special characters is that they are supported by the font used, which is often not the case with the capital ß. In contrast to typewriters, computer keyboards can have multiple functions, as characters can also be called up using the additional keys Fn, Alt and Alt + Gr. In practice, many computer users continue to use paraphrases, so the substitute spellings IJsselmeer and Ijsselmeer appear much more frequently than the corresponding Dutch ligature in German texts. Anyone who frequently writes foreign-language texts can define their own key combinations for regularly required special characters regardless of the actual keyboard layout. In contrast to the typewriter, the computer enables the use of the quotation marks below, which, however, is not desired by all users. Whether the quotation marks appear below or above does not depend on the keyboard layout, but is done by pressing the same key with or without a space in front of the quotes. Linux users cannot use the dead keys because they are not supported by the operating system. The keyboard labeling is of course given on computers, even if individual keys can be exchanged on most models. The user can, however, switch the system to QWERTY or any other desired assignment of the keys despite the QWERTZ keyboard lettering. Consequently, a linguistic distinction must be made between a QWERTY keyboard or keyboard lettering and a QWERTY keyboard layout.
The German standard DIN 2137 and possible deviations
DIN 2137 knows three different QWERTZ keyboard layouts. T1 describes the keyboard layout commonly used today, while T2 also contains the special characters of European languages. With the keyboard layout T3, the characters of languages that are not written with Latin letters can also be effortlessly written. Some smaller netbooks deviate from the basic T1 standard and do not have a special numeric keypad. Furthermore, they do not offer a separate key for the mathematical larger and smaller symbols, which are also required when writing HTML codes, but place them as characters that can be called up using the Fn key at the Y.
How useful is the QWERTZ keyboard layout?
The QWERTZ keyboard layout is actually considered obsolete for ergonomic reasons. However, many computer users were socialized with the old typewriter and are used to this arrangement. Since the QWERTY keyboard is still used, training courses for typing in the ten-finger system are carried out in this system, so that changes cannot be implemented. Alternative keyboard arrangements are offered and can be downloaded, but are hardly used. The best known is the Dvorak keyboard named after its developer, the German version of which can be represented as Y, .PYF analogous to QWERTZ. One of the disadvantages of the QWERTZ keyboard layout is that many keystrokes have to be made with the little finger. Furthermore, in German there are statistically more attacks with the left than with the right hand, although most people are right-handed. This fact can be understood as a disadvantage, but it also leads to the fact that computer users are motivated to strengthen their weaker hand. Whether the extensive hand movements when typing with the usual QWERTZ keyboard layout promote tendinitis is a matter of dispute among occupational physicians.
The QWERTY keyboard for smartphones and cell phones
With smartphones and cell phones, text is often entered using an overlay keyboard or by pressing a number key several times. If these devices are equipped with a QWERTY keyboard, it makes them much easier to use. For reasons of space, on most of the QWERTY keyboards used on smartphones, the digits and special characters can be accessed using an additional shift key. Smartphone users get used to this just as quickly as they do to the necessarily small keys on their QWERTY keyboard.
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