If you can touch-type, you won't even consider where the letters are or why they're set out as they are. If you've used computers for many years, you'll be used to keyboard shortcuts that save time and effort. You probably use those without too much thought either. The computer keyboard seems like a very uncomplicated piece of equipment. You can buy a new one for a few pounds and it doesn't cost a lot more to get a wireless keyboard. You can spend a few thousand if you opt for an Optimus Popularis or something similar but no one really needs to pay that much.
The keyboard on your laptop or desktop is still set out using a key formation that was first set back in 1868 when Christopher Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter, found that early models set out in alphabetical order used to jam up too often. The QWERTY keyboard separates the most commonly used letters in the alphabet to slow typists down, which meant the typewriter jammed up less often. Now that we type a lot of our information on a touch screen with our thumbs, does the QWERTY keyboard have much life left in it?
A keyboard like the Optimus Popularis will set you back a few thousand but what's the difference. With this type of keyboard, each key is a screen which displays the function of the key. For example, then you press and hold the Shift key, the letters show as capitals. You can also use these screens to change the keyboard's layout so changing between English and Cyrillic, for example, is easily achieved. You can also change this keyboard from the traditional QWERTY layout to the easier to use the Dvorak system.
You might have heard of the Dvorak layout as the Simplified Keyboard or the American Simplified Keyboard. This layout is optimised for the English language so users move their fingers less and can expect to type with fewer errors when compared to the QWERTY layout. The reduced travel distance between keys is also said to reduce repetitive strain injuries, although that's not been proven yet.
Ctrl + Alt + Delete
When you ask what keyboard shortcuts are about, consider the one that we all know – Ctrl + Alt + Delete and then consider why we all know it. Users remember that key combination because no matter what nonsense your computer is showing on the screen, no matter what the program is doing or not doing, you can always get a system reset by holding down those three keys at the same time. Back in 1981, computer programmer David Bradley had to keep rebooting every few minutes as he and his team tried to build a workable PC. He created the keyboard shortcut as a way of resetting the computer without running the memory tests that automatically formed part of the reset format.