What makes QWERTY and AZERTY keyboards different?

Any device that needs typographic elements must have a keyboard to enter the corresponding values. the so-called keyboard layout corresponds to a certain mechanical, visual or functional arrangement of the keys, and there are many models and variations for each language.

The two main categories of keyboard layouts from a Spanish language perspective would be Latin and Non-Latin Keyboards. Latin keyboards are named with the first 6 letters appearing on the top row. QWERTY and AZERTY are two very common and used Latin keyboard layouts, but there are others, for example QWERTZ.

The QWERTY keyboard

Keyboards were born with typewriters, and one of their first developers, American Christopher Latham Sholesele noticed that many English words used contiguous combinations of letters in the alphabet, such as ba and de, often intersecting when he typed on a keyboard. alphabetical layout.

Sholes identified this technical problem and proposed a keyboard in which the letters most often used together were separated. This is the layout we know today as QWERTY, sometimes also called Sholes Keyboard or Layout.

One of the most striking curiosities of the QWERTY layout is that the top line has all the letters to write «typewriter» (English typewriter), and was the word most used by Sholes in his typewriter demonstrations.

But we must remember that the QWERTY keyboard was not invented to type faster or more ergonomically, it was invented to solve a technical difficulty with alphabetic keyboards. This layout was quickly adopted in other countries, sometimes with minor adaptations and variations.

Germany and Eastern European countries mostly adopted QWERTZ keyboards, while France and other French-speaking regions eventually adopted AZERTY keyboards. In Spain, England and America, it was mostly followed by QWERTY keyboards.

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Within each keyboard type there are several regional or national subtypes and variants. For example, the QWERTY keyboard is different for Spanish than for English, as it must include the ñ key or the umlaut, among other adaptations. The QWERTY keyboard used in Spain and the one used in other Hispanic countries is even different, since in Spain it must include, for example, the euro symbol.

The AZERTY keyboard

The AZERTY keyboard layout is mainly used in France and French-speaking countries, although not in all, for example in Switzerland and Quebec, QWERTY keyboards are more commonly used.

The adoption of AZERTY keyboards in France happened gradually until it prevailed in the first decade of the 20th century. Until then, most typewriters were imported, mainly from the United States, but the demand for the AZERTY keyboard did not discourage the manufacturers, who had no problem in closing commercial agreements and producing AZERTY keyboards for export.

Why francophones preferred AZERTY keyboards is not known, and probably never will be, but it may just be out of habit, for exactly the same reason other countries have adopted the other keyboard layouts.

Other keyboard layouts

In addition to QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY keyboards and all their variants, there are many other Latin keyboard layouts. For example, in Turkey the distribution is used FGĞIOD, in Latvia the ŪGJRMV and in Lithuania the ĄŽERTY.

Many countries have switched from one system to another several times, and many more countries are likely to do so in the future.

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Dvorak Keyboard is a keyboard layout developed by August Dvorak and William Dealey. It is designed with ergonomic goals in mind, to reduce writer fatigue and thus increase typing speed. They patented their keyboard in 1936 and in 1982 it was defined in an ANSI standard (American National Institute of Standards).

The HCESAR keyboard was a keyboard established in Portugal in 1937 to replace the AZERTY keyboard. Starting with the revolution of April 1974, there was a progressive return to the AZERTY keyboard throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Today, the predominant keyboard in Portugal is a Portuguese variant of QWERTY.

And the same thing happens with Latin keyboards, it happens with keyboards of other language families, such as Arabic, Thai, Japanese, Tibetan or the InScript standard, used in 12 dialects of Hindi, or for the Brahmic alphabets of Hindi. and Southeast Asia, for example in Bangladesh.

One of the current keyboard layouts is the Neo Distribution, developed by the Neo Users Group since 2004; supports almost all Latin, Vietnamese and African languages. In 2010, Neo 2.0 was released, a keyboard layout organized in layers, each one for a specific purpose, but all designed from an ergonomic point of view, trying to balance the use of both hands to increase typing speed and reduce fatigue. .

As we have seen, QWERTY and AZERTY are two widely used keyboard types and one of the oldest, but keyboard layouts were born to solve problems and have not stopped evolving, adapting and improving over time.


HCESAR Keyboard Spanish Variant Keyboard Dvorak Arabic Keyboard Thai Keyboard Sanskrit Keyboard Bangladeshi Keyboard Neo 2.0 Layer 1 Keyboard Neo 2.0 Layer 3 Keyboard
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