The History of Keyboard Sizes

Keyboard design, a crucial component of our digital interactions, has seen a remarkable evolution over the years. This guide delves into the fascinating journey of keyboard design and sizes, from the inception of the QWERTY layout in the 1870s to the rise of virtual and customizable keyboards in the modern era.

The Birth of the QWERTY Keyboard

The QWERTY keyboard, a now ubiquitous interface, was conceived in the 1870s. Designed for the needs of the era, it became the standard layout, permeating typewriters and eventually computers. The arrangement of keys was primarily intended to prevent mechanical jams in early typewriters, while also facilitating a balanced usage of both hands during typing. Today, the QWERTY layout continues to shape our digital communication landscape.

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard emerged as a challenge to the dominance of the QWERTY design. Its creators sought to increase typing efficiency by strategically placing the most frequently used keys on the “home row,” where typists rest their fingers. Despite its potential for faster typing speeds, the Dvorak keyboard didn’t quite overthrow QWERTY, but it remains a popular alternative among some dedicated users.

The ISO Keyboard: A Global Standard

Moving away from the American keyboard layouts, the ISO keyboard emerged as a standard layout in Europe and other parts of the world. This layout, while maintaining the QWERTY arrangement of letters, varies in key shape and placement, reflecting the unique linguistic characteristics of different regions. For instance, extra keys are provided for accents and special characters prevalent in European languages.

Ergonomic Keyboards: A Healthier Typing Experience

With the rise of computer use, concerns about the impact of extensive typing on our hands and wrists prompted the development of ergonomic keyboards. These keyboards come in diverse shapes and sizes, with designs that prioritize comfort and minimize strain. Some are split in the middle to allow a more natural hand position, while others feature tented keys or integrated wrist rests.

For a deeper dive into the vast variety of keyboard sizes, you can explore this resource. If you’re interested in smaller, compact options, check out this guide on the best 40% keyboards. Alternatively, if you require more functionality and keys, you might consider the best 75% keyboards.

Virtual Keyboards: The Future of Typing

As technology continues to advance, the concept of the keyboard is being reimagined. Virtual keyboards are a striking example, utilizing touchscreens or projection technology to create a typing interface on any surface. This innovation allows for increased portability and adaptability, as the size and layout of the keyboard can be adjusted to the user’s preference.

For a comparison between different keyboard sizes, including the compact 60% format commonly used in virtual keyboards, see this comprehensive comparison guide.

Customization and Personalization: Keycap Sets

As keyboards have become an integral part of our daily lives, there’s been a growing interest in personalization. Custom design keycap sets offer users the opportunity to truly make their keyboards their own. These sets allow users to upload photos or designs to be printed onto the keycaps, resulting in a unique and personal touch to their typing experience. Not only does this allow for individual expression, but it also adds a level of engagement and fun to the often mundane task of typing.

The Future of Keyboards

As we cast our gaze forward, the realm of keyboard design gleams with potential. Advancements in technology and shifts in user behavior are propelling the evolution of keyboards into exciting, uncharted territories. This exploration isn’t confined to the realm of physical designs; it stretches to the very concept of what constitutes a keyboard.

One of the most promising advancements comes from the world of flexible technology. Picture this: a keyboard that can roll up like a scroll, tuck neatly into a pocket or bag, and unfurl when needed. Such keyboards, often made of silicone or other flexible materials, are already on the market, hinting at a future where portability doesn’t mean compromising usability.

There’s also the exciting frontier of wearable technology. Imagine a glove or a piece of smart clothing that transforms your movements into typed words. This could redefine the concept of keyboard, taking it beyond the confines of a flat surface and integrating it seamlessly with our daily activities.

Then, there are advancements in touch and gesture recognition. Keyboards of the future might not involve any physical contact at all. We’re already seeing early versions of this in virtual keyboards and voice recognition software. As these technologies improve, they might become as reliable and precise as traditional keyboards.

AI technology also holds promise for the future of keyboards. Predictive typing, for instance, could evolve to the point where your keyboard anticipates entire sentences or even paragraphs based on your initial input. This could significantly speed up typing and make digital communication even more efficient.

Lastly, the aesthetic evolution of keyboards should not be overlooked. As users yearn for increased personalization, we anticipate a rise in customizable and interchangeable keycaps, and keyboards that offer flexibility in altering key colors or designs.

Stepping into this future, we’ll encounter keyboards more adaptable, portable, and personalized than ever before. These devices will integrate seamlessly into our lives, reshaping our interaction with digital realms. Keyboards have journeyed far from their typewriter origins, yet their evolution is just taking flight.


Reflecting on the past, it’s remarkable to witness the evolution of the unassuming keyboard, its adaptive metamorphosis in response to our needs and technological progress. From the QWERTY layout, designed to avoid typewriter mechanical jams, to ergonomic designs prioritizing user health, and now to customizable and virtual keyboards—the trajectory of keyboard designs and sizes echoes human creativity and adaptability.

Given the significant portion of our lives spent interfacing with digital devices, keyboard design and size will continue to be a hub of innovation and personal expression. Regardless of your preference—traditional QWERTY, efficient Dvorak, versatile ISO, or innovative virtual keyboards—there exists a keyboard tailored to your unique typing needs. And with the rise of customizable keycaps, your keyboard can truly reflect your individuality.

The evolution of keyboards shows no sign of deceleration; it stimulates curiosity about future possibilities. One certainty remains—the keyboard, in all its forms and sizes, will persist as a vital instrument in our digital universe.