The Interesting Reason Why The F And J Keys On Your Keyboard Have Bumps

Computers are evolving faster than ever, and there’s one aspect that has stayed mostly unchanged for over a hundred years – the keyboard. Hard to believe, but the modern keyboard has had pretty much the same basic design and layout since 1873!


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You’ve probably noticed two things about your keyboard, like the arrangement is not alphabetical, but jumbled up …

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… and second, there are two keys, the F and the J, that have a little bump on them. 

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To answer the first question, we’ve got to go back to 1873 when the Sholes and Gidden typewriter company sold a design for a new keyboard layout to Remington.  They then launched this seemingly jumbled layout with the Remington 1 typewriter.

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The QWERTY layout (named after the first six keys on the first row) placed letters in a way that led to frequently used letter pairs (like “th” or “st”) not being on neighboring bars.

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Still, even a QWERTY keyboard wasn’t immune to the occasional jam and people think that QWERTY was invented to slow people down so they have to search for each letter before typing!

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The introduction of QWERTY helped raise people’s typing speeds because they had to deal with far less jamming interfering with their work. The improvements in the Remington 2 only served to make the layout even more popular. The introduction of “touch typing” increased typing speeds further.

Touch typing users are trained to rely on muscle memory instead of sight. The fingers on each hand are supposed to rest as shown in the diagram below. After some time spent training the hands to move around in this way, muscle memory takes over and users can type without having to look at the keyboard, achieving speeds of 60 words per minute (WPM) or more.

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This is why those bumps on the F and J are so important. They are the tactile indicator for your index fingers to know if your hands are in the right spot. After you type each word, the hands are meant to return to the central position shown above, using the bumps as a guide.

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By the way, QWERTY is just one of many keyboard layouts and is not necessarily the most user-friendly or efficient. The DVORAK keyboard was invented in 1936 by Dr. August Dvorak and his brother-in-law, Dr. William Dealey. Years were spent researching hand movement and physiology, and claim that the DVORAK keyboard requires less motion and greatly reduces errors once learned properly.

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Unfortunately for Dr. Dvorak, inertia is a powerful force. By the time his system came out, QWERTY was already deeply entrenched as the standard. At that point, people couldn’t be bothered to learn a new system if the old one has been working just fine.

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Now that you know all that, if you’re spending the rest of your day at a keyboard, here are a few helpful tips to avoid pain:


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