Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout
The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard is a keyboard layout designed by Drs. August Dvorak and William Dealey in the 1920s and 1930s as an alternative to the still-popular QWERTY layout. It has also been called the Simplified Keyboard or American Simplified Keyboard, but is commonly known as the Dvorak keyboard.



Dvorak and Dealey studied letter frequencies and the physiology of the hand and created the layout to adhere to these principles:

  • It is easier to type letters alternating between hands.
  • For maximum speed and efficiency, the most common letters and digraphs should be the easiest to type. This means that they should be on the home row, which is where the fingers rest.
  • Likewise, the least common letters should be on the bottom row, which is the hardest row to reach.
  • The right hand should do more of the typing, because most people are right-handed.
  • It is more difficult to type digraphs with adjacent fingers than non-adjacent fingers.
  • Stroking should generally move from the edges of the board to the middle (as an example, rap your fingers on a table and see which is easier: going from little finger to index or vice versa). This motion on a keyboard is called inboard stroke flow.

The layout was completed in 1932 and was granted U.S. Patent No. 2,040,248 (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=2,040,248.WKU.&OS=PN/2,040,248&RS=PN/2,040,248) in 1936. It was designated an alternate standard keyboard layout by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1982. In 1984 the Dvorak keyboard had an estimated 100,000 users.

Resistance to change

Even though many feel that the principles on which the Dvorak keyboard is based make it superior to the older QWERTY, attempts to universally convert to the Dvorak have been met with resistance. Typists who are already proficient with the QWERTY layout do not want to have to relearn on a new keyboard. In fact, a discussion of the Dvorak Keyboard is sometimes used as an exercise by management consultants to illustrate the difficulties of change.

In addition to the time required for a QWERTY typist to learn the Dvorak layout and become efficient when using it, keyboard shortcuts and applications requiring key position layout will be different in the Dvorak layout and may require further training. For example, the vi editor assumes that the keys H, J, K, and L are on the home row – although J and K stay together and the space-bar can be used instead of L. Some computer games may be more difficult to play, especially those that assume relative positions of the keys used for motion — for example A for left, W for up, S for down and D for right (though many games allow users to remap key assignments).

Dvorak then may be better suited for situations where block-typing is done. However, the design has made some headway, with Dvorak layouts now available on most major computer operating systems. It is also possible to learn how to use Dvorak only for touch typing while retaining the ability to use QWERTY when looking at the keyboard.

Further improvements

NOTE: correctness of the layout shown here is in question.

Right-handed Dvorak layout
Right-handed Dvorak layout
Left-handed Dvorak layout
Left-handed Dvorak layout

Dvorak also proposed an alternative ordering of the digits on the numbers row, 7-5-3-1-9-0-2-4-6-8, believing this arrangement to be more efficient. However, few who use the keyboard employ this rearrangement, and indeed the ANSI standard calls for the usual numerical order.

There are also Dvorak arrangements designed for one-handed typing that are useful for the disabled or for simultaneously controlling a mouse. One arrangement is designed for right-hand typing, while the other is for left-handed typing.

Other languages

In addition, Dvorak-based keyboard layouts have been created for languages other than English. An implementation for Swedish, known as Svorak, places the three extra Swedish vowels on the leftmost three keys of the upper row, which correspond to punctuation symbols on the English Dvorak layout. These punctuation symbols are then juggled with other keys, and the Alt-Gr key is required to access some of them.

The Norwegian implementation (known as "Norsk Dvorak"[1] (http://www.stenling.no/dvorak/)) is a bit different: the first two ("" and "") of the three extra vowels are placed at the far left of the bottom row, while the last one ("") is placed in the far left of the top row.

A Finnish DAS keyboard layout [2] (http://www.students.tut.fi/~seres/DAS_en.html) follows many of Dvorak's design principles, but the layout is designed from scratch based on the most common letters and letter combinations in the Finnish language.

There is a Brazilian ABNT2 layout too, called brdk. Here [3] (http://oui.com.br/n/content.php?article.17) is a driver for Linux/ Windows and information about it.

There is considerable variation between implementations in the placement of punctuation on the English layout.


The Dvorak keyboard is often used as a standard example of the network effect, particularly in economics textbooks, the other standard example being the competition between Betamax and VHS. Liebowitz and Margolis argue against the use of these cases as an example Market Failure, an idea that they appear to only consider possible in the case of government intervention in the market. This has led to a series of articles and books that attempt to dispute the evidence for the alleged superiority of Betamax and Dvorak.

See also

External links

Dvorak Tools



  • The Curse of Qwerty (http://www.geocities.com/malibu_malv/curse_qwerty.html) by Jared Diamond provides detailed information on the history of the typewriter and the QWERTY and other keyboards and on the great superiority of the Dvorak keyboard.
  • Typing Errors (http://reason.com/9606/Fe.QWERTY.shtml) - Article alleging evidence against the Dvorak layout's superiority
  • The Fable of the Keys (http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html) - Article questioning the Dvorak keyboard's superiority

de:Dvorak-Tastaturlayout eo:Klavaro Dvorak fr:Clavier Dvorak it:Tastiera semplificata Dvorak ja:Dvorak配列 nl:Dvorak-toetsenbord pl:Klawiatura Dvoraka zh:德沃夏克鍵盤


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