Friday, December 12, 2003 + The QWERTY Question

This site lists amusing facts, broken down into many categories.

Some examples:
* A person uses approximately fifty-seven sheets of toilet paper each day.
* Natural gas does not have any odor. In order to detect a gas leak, some gas
  companies add a chemical that smells similar like rotten eggs.
* Swiss engineer George de Mestral, who got the idea after noticing burrs were
  sticking to his pants after his regular walks through the woods, invented
* During the 1600's, boys and girls in England wore dresses until they were
  about seven years old.
* In the 1977 movie "Star Wars," actress Jodie Foster was George Lucas' second
  choice to play the part of Princess Leia.
* A man named Charles Osborne had the hiccups for approximately sixty-nine
* The first known American novelist to hand in a manuscript that was typed was
  Mark Twain.

This last fact reminds me of an interesting story that I first read when I was
a little tacker:
  The QWERTY layout on computer keyboards, inherited from typewriters, was
  originally designed to slow down typists and thus prevent typewriter keys
  from jamming.

According to "The QWERTY Connection" ( this may
not be entirely true ...
* "Myths about QWERTY"
* "Why QWERTY was Invented"
The site argues that the layout does prevent jamming, thereby actually allowing
the typist to type faster.

Sounds like a bit of spin-doctoring to me.

The Straight Dope maintains the view that the layout was devised to make things
easy for the typewriter, not the typist:
* "Was the QWERTY keyboard purposely designed to slow typists?"

If you want to read more about this burning issue, check out the following links:
* The QWERTY Question
* "Understanding the Economics of QWERTY: the Necessity of History"