The QWERTY layout was designed by Christopher Sholes for early typewriters, arranged so that the most common letters were placed in hard to reach spots, thus slowing typists down to avoid jamming. The Dvorak layout is designed to minimize the distance traveled by the fingers, placing the most common letters on the home row and attempting to make the typist alternate hands on consecutive letters.
The Qwerty keyboard is designed for typewriters, so there are definitely more efficient ones that can replace it. The most commonly used letters are placed as far apart as possible in the machine’s innards.
The Dvorak keyboard layout is apparently more efficient and the placement of keys allows for faster typing. “Among other improvements, the DSK puts all vowels in the “home row” of keys–the second row from the bottom–and favors the right hand slightly.”
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