Tradition says that there are two primary kinds of typists: touch-typists who are familiar enough with a keyboard's layout to type without having to look at the keyboard while they type, and hunt-and-peck typists who must visually locate each key they want to hit. The vast majority of English-language keyboard users--be them touch-typists or hunt-and-peckers--type on keyboards that use the QWERTY layout. While this layout might have performed a specific function back in 1874 when it was originally patented, there is no real technical reason why this particular layout has endured, other than tradition. Now a pair of Philadelphia women is looking to offer a more-logically laid-out keyboard for the hunt-and-peck set with the Fast Finger Keyboard
The Fast Finger Keyboard uses an alphabetical layout, instead of the more common QWERTY layout. The top row contains numbers as normal keyboards do, but the keyboard's second row has keys that actually go in alphabetical order from A to J (the other non-alphabetical keys, such as the tab and square bracket keys are in their normal spots); the third row includes K through S; with T to Z in the fourth row; the bottom row includes the spacebar and other keys commonly found on modern computer keyboards.
The initial motivation for this keyboard came to one of its inventors, Faith Quintavell, when she witnessed "the frustration of an auto mechanic at a busy auto repair shop who was struggling to type information for a long line of impatient clients. His hunt 'n peck method of typing slowed down the line considerably
." Quintavell figured that if he was a typing on a keyboard where the keys were in a more natural, predictable layout that he would be able to type much faster. The second inventor, Lynn Grieco, added her touch when she included function keys for commonly used IM abbreviations, such as IMO and L8R, as well as dedicated keys for the "@" symbol and the "WWW" prefix.
The keyboard includes a toggle button, which switches the keyboard between alphabetical order and traditional QWERTY mode--the alphanumeric keys include two sets of markings: one for alphabetical order and one for the QWERTY layout. The top of the keyboard also includes dedicated multimedia playback keys as well.
This is certainly not the first time that someone sought to reinvent the keyboard. In fact, we reported last November about a functional, gag keyboard, called the Keyboard for Blondes
. More serious historical attempts to overthrow the QWERTY keyboard layout's hegemony have given us the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard
and the Colemak
The Fast Finger Keyboard is currently available only in red and can be purchased directly from the Fastfingerkeyboard.com Website for $27.95 each. Quintavell tells us that she just got her first shipment of keyboards in from China this week and she just listed the keyboards on Amazon today. She reports that they should be visible on Amazon and available for purchase by Thursday morning.