You, the enlightened reader, know what this article will say even before it says it. You know it because you have heard it said a dozen times before, as it has been said for more than a hundred years. The QWERTY keyboard is a pox on our intellectual life. This useless and counterintuitive system was foisted on us for the mechanical convenience of the very earliest typewriter makers, and it is only by a series of random accidents that it became the worldwide standard for English-language keyboards—and, with minor variations (like AZERTY or QWERTZ), the standard for other Western European languages as well. In a sane world, we would long since have replaced QWERTY with a more scientific alternative, such as the Dvorak keyboard, or the Blickensderfer DHIATENSOR.
Since you know all the arguments against QWERTY already, let us assume them made, and then Dr. Boli will get on with showing you why they are all wrong.
First of all, the only basis on which one keyboard could be said to be better than another is typing speed, and in that regard there is no good evidence at all that any of the proposed alternatives are better than QWERTY. The most studied alternative layout is the Dvorak keyboard, whose fanatical devotees have sponsored many experiments to show that typists retrained on a Dvorak keyboard type much faster than they did on a QWERTY keyboard. Of course the training here is the confounding factor; and indeed, when typists are given similar training on QWERTY keyboards, they show similar improvement. We are probably safe in concluding that it is not the keyboard layout but the training that effects the improvement.
In fact the old story that the QWERTY keyboard was designed to slow us down is almost the opposite of the truth, as far as we can make out the truth through the mists of the decades. The layout was designed (according to recollections many years after the fact) to prevent typebars from jamming in speedy typing. In order to do that, letter combinations that commonly appear together were placed some distance apart. You will note that the intention here was to speed up typing, not to slow it down. By spreading the keys apart this way, the QWERTY keyboard very often causes the typist to alternate hands while typing, and nothing speeds up typing more effectively than alternating hands.
Typists have set some astonishing speed records on QWERTY keyboards. Typewriter brands like Underwood and Woodstock sponsored speed typists to show that their machines could keep up with anybody. The speed of a fast typist has not significantly increased in the computer era: by 1900, typewriter technology had already reached such a peak of perfection in the very best machines that the human typist, not the machine, was the limiting factor.
It is not likely, then, that any alternative arrangement of keys will give us much greater speed. If that is true, then there is no good reason for changing the QWERTY layout. But there is every reason to keep it. The biggest advantage, in fact, is so obvious we are likely to miss it. The QWERTY keyboard really is universal for English speakers. There are variants in the placement of some of the symbols, but the letters are in the same places on every keyboard you come across. You can write a letter on your 1880 Remington, and then pick up your smartphone and send a text, and you are using the same keyboard. For once the invisible hand of the market has done its job. It has created a workable universal standard without the intervention of any committee or regulatory body or czar or dictatorship of the proletariat.
Like English spelling, the QWERTY keyboard survives because it does its job, because all attempts to reform it tie themselves up in the knots of their own inconsistencies, and because any attempt to replace it would require hundreds of millions of people to retrain themselves for no clear benefit. In the English-speaking world, it is likely that QWERTY will last as long as literacy itself, which should give it another five years at least.