A to Z of Innovations at Expos: Qwerty keyboard

A to Z of Innovations at Expos: Qwerty keyboard

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of American Independence, World Expo 1876 Philadelphia introduced the public to a multitude of innovations, including the Sholes & Glidden typewriter, sold under the brand name Remington No. 1. While other typewriters had already been produced, the Remington No. 1 was the first to be a commercial success and the first ever to feature the Qwerty format keyboard.

The Qwerty layout was devised following an array of problems with the first typewriters produced by Sholes & Glidden, which initially used alphabetical ordering. Taking on feedback from the early users of typing machines, Christopher Latham Sholes redesigned the keyboard layout before the company sold its product to Remington. Some final modifications were then made before the Remington No. 1 was finally commercialised, with its first public display being at Expo 1876 Philadelphia, introducing the Qwerty keyboard to the world.

Debate remains over the exact reasoning behind this Qwerty format. One popular explanation is that the letters were rearranged as users jammed the keys of letters situated near each other, while others suggest that the layout was adjusted to better suit telegraph workers interpreting Morse code. Whatever the reason may have been, the Remington typewriter became a major success in the following years, and the Qwerty keyboard – despite some alternative proposals – has not been truly challenged since.

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