Lock in, Path Dependence, and the Internationalization of QWERTY

Kay, Neil M (2013) Lock in, Path Dependence, and the Internationalization of QWERTY. Discussion paper. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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This paper looks at the emergence of what is described here as the QWERTY family of standards (QWERTY and its international adaptations QZERTY, AZERTY, and QWERTZ). QWERTY has been described as an inferior solution and an accident of history. However, the analysis here finds that each member of the family represented highly efficient adaptations to specific user needs and technical challenges encountered in their own environments. These findings may be seen to have wider implications given QWERTY’s role as paradigm case in the literature on increasing returns and path dependence, and these are pursued in the paper