It took a while, but I’ve finally started to get the question from readers: “Are you the same Randy Cassingham that wrote the book on the Dvorak keyboard?”
Yes — surely one Randy Cassingham in the world is enough.
For those who don’t know, the Dvorak is an ergonomic alternative to the standard “Qwerty” layout found on most computers and typewriters, and its popularity is increasing more than ever.
The Dvorak layout was inspired by an early disciple of ergonomics pioneer Frank Bunker Gilbreth. Dr. August Dvorak, who was a professor at the University of Washington, gathered a small research staff, and it took them 12 years to perfect the design — there were no computers to help in the 1920s.
The Dvorak layout is, by design, much easier to type on and much easier to learn than Qwerty. Many of the mainstream typing tutor programs (Typing Tutor VI, Mavis Beacon) will teach you how to use it.
It’s Perfect for Writers
Personally, I learned Qwerty in high school, but I doubled my speed to over 100 wpm by switching — quite handy for a busy writer.
And while there have been no studies on it yet, I suspect the Dvorak layout would help reduce repetitive strain/carpal tunnel injuries which are becoming so common.
Dr. Dvorak and his team documented their results in a fascinating book called Typewriting Behavior, which was published in 1936. A 536-page book (!) on a typewriter keyboard design? Yes: in the 30s, there were books and magazines about typewriting just as there are books and magazines about computers today — the typewriter’s impact on business produced similar radical changes.
No, my book is no longer available: it’s sold out. The interesting thing: Dr. Dvorak’s book is available — I’m its exclusive distributor. These are hardcover volumes printed in 1936, so when they’re gone, they’re gone forever.
My 1986 book The Dvorak Keyboard provided a nice overview of the Dvorak layout, what’s “wrong” with Qwerty, what’s “right” about the Dvorak, and some history of the Dvorak’s evolution since 1936. It also has hard-to-find information on Dr. Dvorak’s special keyboards for one-handed people, which he designed for a friend injured in World War II.
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My web site’s page on the Dvorak was getting so much traffic that it has been spun off to its own site, the Dvorak Keyboard — and my shopping cart has a Dvorak keyboard section with various information products, including that 1936 book.