The History of QWERTY and Optimizing Keyboard Design

TLDR; The video discusses the history of QWERTY, the problems with its layout, and the use of simulated annealing to optimize keyboard design.

💡 QWERTY Origins

The QWERTY layout originated from the Printing Telegraph in 1846, designed by R



The layout was influenced by the familiarity of piano keyboards and later evolved into the typewriter.

The Sholes, Glidden, and Soule typewriter design in 1868 led to the creation of the QWERTY layout we know today.

The layout was standardized among major manufacturers more than 125 years ago and is still widely used.

⛰️ Hill Climbing

The QWERTY layout's evolution is likened to a hill climbing algorithm.

Small changes in keyboard design lead to incremental improvements, but there may be better solutions that remain out of reach.

The approach ensures progress but may prevent reaching objectively better solutions without climbing back down.

🚫 Why QWERTY Sucks

QWERTY's suboptimal layout may lead to physical strain, causing nearly half a million injuries per year in the US.

The layout's design contributes to uneven finger and hand usage, potentially leading to repetitive strain injuries.

The video also humorously mentions a rare incident of a typewriter being used as a weapon.

⚙️ Simulated Annealing

The use of simulated annealing, a machine learning approach, to optimize keyboard layout is explained.

This approach gradually rearranges keys to minimize finger travel distance and reduce finger strain.

The process involves comparing new keyboard configurations to the old one, with the goal of finding an improved layout.

⌨️ World's Best Keyboards

The video details the use of simulated annealing to create a keyboard that is 39% better than QWERTY for writing various texts.

The new layout optimizes finger usage and reduces finger travel distance, resulting in significant improvements for typing commonly used words.

It also explores the impact of optimizing for different typing patterns and the trade-offs involved.

🔀 World's Worst Keyboard

The process of intentionally creating the world's worst keyboard, using the same approach as for the best keyboard, is explained.

The speaker details the physical and mental challenges experienced while using the worst keyboard, which substantially reduced typing speed.

Despite the difficulties, the experience led to improved finger dexterity and a different typing technique.

🦢 A Keyboard for Geese

The speaker advises against fully optimizing one's own keyboard due to the painful learning process.

The video humorously mentions creating an edible, bird-safe version of the world's worst keyboard, implying it will be discarded for geese to find a better use for it.

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