Alternate histories have emerged, mind you, including these Japanese researchers who suggest that telegraph operators had more to do with creating QWERTY than is often acknowledged. David notes that finally E. Remington and Sons, the famous arms makers, bought the rights for the machine. Their mechanics adjusted the keyboard so that “assembled into one row [were] all the letters which a salesman would need to impress customers, by rapidly pecking out the brand name: TYPE WRITER.”
Yes, friends, it was a sales gimmick. But it wasn’t quite enough, and the economic downturn of the 1870s threatened the machine’s success, as did competitors flooding the market with more efficient and intuitive keyboard setups. Keep in mind that most typewriters were used not by individual consumers but by business firms. These business firms began to train their typists in “touch typing,” based on the QWERTY keyboard. Guess who trained these typists? The Remington Company, of course! More at Quartz.
I like that theory. It’s much more fun that the whole ‘typewriters used to get jammed…’ explanation.