The Fable of the Keys

  title={The Fable of the Keys},
  author={Stan J. Liebowitz and Stephen E. Margolis},
  journal={The Journal of Law and Economics},
  pages={1 - 25}
This paper examines the history of the QWERTY typewriter keyboard, often put forward as the archetypical case of markets choosing the wrong standard. Contrary to the claims made by Paul David and Brian Arthur, we find virtually no evidence to support a view that QWERTY is inferior to DVORAK. Instead, using records of typing experiments, studies by ergonomicists, and examining the historical record of competition among different keyboard designs back when QWERTY first became dominant, we… 
The standardization of a technical practice: Typing (1883–1930)
The progressive standardization of typing was structured around the “ten finger” technique, the memorization of the keyboard and new positions for the body, which attested to new demands and conditioned the constitution of the profession.
Big causes and small events: QWERTY and the mechanization of office work
This article studies the adoption of typewriters in the United States, France, and Germany in the period between 1870 and 1930. The aim of the article is to show how specific problem-solving
QWERTY vs . Dvorak Efficiency : A Computational Approach
After David’s pioneering contribution, many authors have claimed that the prevalence of the QWERTY keyboard layout is an instance of lock-in on an inferior technology, because the Dvorak Simplified
Comparing Different Keyboard Layouts: Aspects of QWERTY, DVORAK and alphabetical keyboards
It is concluded that the claimed Dvorak typing speed-up over QWERTY is rather limited and that unskilled typists can experience help from an alphabetically biased keyboard.
“Kataptation” or the Qwerty-Effect in Language Evolution
  • A. Moro
  • Psychology
    Front. Psychology
  • 2011
The theoretical point I would like to raise here is that this state of affairs is expected on purely conceptual grounds as the opposite of what is known as “exaptation,” i.e., the persistence in a population of a trait that survives unmodified even if the original function that the trait was selected for disappeared and no other function has replaced it.
Keyboards without Keyboards: A Survey of Virtual Keyboards
The characteristics of the keyboard modality are analyzed and it is shown how they contribute to making it a necessary complement to speech recognition rather than a competitor.
QWERTY and the search for optimality
This paper shows how one of the developers of QWERTY continued to use the trade secret that underlay its development to seek further efficiency improvements after its introduction. It provides
Warning: This keyboard will deconstruct— The role of the keyboard in skilled typewriting
It is argued that the expert knowledge mediating action control emerges during online interaction with the physical environment.


Studies of Typing from the LNR Research Group
The study of typing comprises a fascinating mixture of elements from motor skills, typewriter mechanics, anatomy, and cognitive control structures. Our research group initially started to study
Typing Speed, Keying Rates, and Optimal Keyboard Layouts
An analysis of keying times during touch typing showed that the standard layout is operated at near-maximum speeds, and larger keying speed increases are possible through eliminating keystrokes than through rearranging the current layout.
Certain Problems Associated with the Design of Input Keyboards for Japanese Writing
Traditional Japanese typewriting is basically a hunt-and-peck method using approximately 3,000 base characters. Because of its cumbersome operation and slow speed, typewriting has not been as common
Copying and Indirect Appropriability: Photocopying of Journals
  • S. Liebowitz
  • Computer Science
    Journal of Political Economy
  • 1985
It is shown that the unauthorized copying of intellectual properties need not be harmful and actually may be beneficial and that photocopying has not harmed journal publishers.
The fable of the bees
A physician with a particular interest in psychological disorders and satirist, Mandeville published versions of his notorious "Fable of the Bees" from 1714 to 1732. Each was a defence and
The Revolution in the Office
This chapter contains sections titled: The Automated Office, The Experience of Word Processing, Forces Controlling the Paperless Revolution, Word Processors and the Oppression of Women, Guide to
Trademark Law: An Economic Perspective
THAT the law of intellectual property, including trademark law, can be analyzed in economic terms is no longer an insight with any power to astonish or even to offend.1 What the literature thus far
Tie-In Sales and Price Discrimination
This paper analyzes a class of contracts between buyers and sellers which specifies that the purchase of one good cannot be effectuated unless a second good is also purchased. The economic forces
The Fable of the Bees: An Economic Investigation
EVER since A. C. Pigou wrote his books on "welfare,"' a divergence between private and social costs has provided the main argument for instituting government action to correct allegedly inefficient
Two Definitions of Efficiency in Law and Economics
THE efficiency paradigm of wealth maximization has provided a coherent framework for understanding many aspects of the law. Unfortunately, that understanding can be hampered by a failure to specify