A history of the typewriter — and my path to pain free typing

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2023-09-18 03:30:03

I was a few years into my career as a software engineer, and increasingly I was experiencing hand, finger, and wrist pain. The nature of the work, involving a substantial amount of typing each day, was becoming strenuous on my hands. Somewhat fear-stricken — given the essential role of typing in software engineering — I started researching in more depth the ergonomics of typing.

Aside from general postural improvements, my main approach was in experimenting with various so-called ergonomic keyboards. I soon learned about the myriad types of ergonomic keyboards — split keyboards, contoured keyboards, angled keyboards. While some of these options provided relief, my pain would inevitably eventually return.

At one point, I happened to stumble on an article regarding the history of the QWERTY keyboard layout. I was intrigued, to say the least. Until then I had not thought deeply about the history of the QWERTY keyboard layout. I, like most people, I imagine, had taken the QWERTY keyboard layout for granted. Out of curiosity, I decided to look deeper into the history.

The history of typewriters is actually quite rich, and too much to cover exhaustively here. I will however give an overview in bullet-point form here (you will understand the connection with ergonomics in the next section).

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