Unlike a standard keyboard where keys Q, W, E, R, T and Y are the first six alpha keys, an ABC style keyboard features the alpha keys in alphabetic order. The ABC style keyboard is touted for use by young children, particularly those ages 2-6, who are just learning the alphabet, as well as those users who aren’t familiar with the traditional QWERTY typewriter layout. Some ABC keyboards also utilize multi-colored keys, which are potentially even more helpful to beginning users.
Proponents of the ABC keyboards insist that using the alphabetic keyboard makes the most sense for anyone learning the alphabet and beginning to read. Once a child or other individual learning to read has mastered the alphabet and has begun composing sentences and building vocabulary, the traditional keyboard layout can be presented, or the user can continue to use the ABC style keyboard. Others who benefit from the ABC style keyboard are those who never learned to type on a traditional keyboard but still want to be able to use a computer.
Some sites and retailers suggest that an ABC style keyboard is also beneficial for those who are dyslexic or have certain learning disabilities. An obvious advantage of an ABC keyboard is that it reduces the learning curve of memorizing the pattern of keys found on a traditional keyboard. An ABC style keyboard is comparable in price to a traditional keyboard. Both styles of keyboards are PC and laptop compatible. Most keyboards feature 101 keys. Both keyboard versions utilize a row above the top row of alpha keys for numbers and/or symbols.
Another keyboard style is known as the Dvorak keyboard. This style places the most frequently used keys on the center row, also known as the home row. Three versions of the Dvorak keyboard exist: one for two-handed users, one for those who only use the left hand, and one for people who type with only the right hand. Although special keyboards are available, the Dvorak style is built in as an option on Microsoft Windows software. Proponents of the Dvorak keyboard believe that it lessens some of the typing-related wrist and forearm discomfort and that it also easier to increase keyboarding speed.
The first keyboard and the first typewriter were both designed in the 1860s. On these early models, the keys were arranged in an alphabetic pattern. However, inventor Christopher Latham Sholes eventually designed the QWERTY key pattern in order to actually slow the typist down; otherwise the keys jammed. His design separated the most-often used keys into alternate sides of the keyboard.