Most countries in the world use the QWERTY keyboard. Also, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) countries: Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Iran use the QWERTZ keyboard, which makes sense because their languages use "Z" more often than "Y". However, I noticed that France, Belgium, and Luxembourg use the AZERTY keybord with the letter "M" in the middle row instead of the bottom row. My questions are:

  1. How did the keyboard layouts develop historically? Was there a practical reason to have these keyboard layouts?

  2. Why haven't France, Belgium, and Luxembourg reformed this redundancy by using the QWERTY keyboard instead of the AZERTY keyboard? Italy also used the QZERTY keyboard with the letter M in the middle row. At least Italy has reformed this redundancy by using the QWERTY keyboard instead of the QZERTY keyboard.

  • 1
    Your question answers itself: it's to do with letter frequency.
    – PhillipW
    Aug 28, 2020 at 18:32
  • 3
    What's going on with your edit history? What do the UNCTAD, IUCN, FATF, "rosicrucian countries", or ITU have to do with your question exactly? Are you trying to describe which countries you're talking about? Because it would be much clearer for you to just name them. I would posit that most people could not name the member countries for each of those groups, much less even know what those acronyms stand for. Aug 31, 2020 at 19:04
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    "reformed this redundancy" I've only had one, very limited, experience of an AZERTY keyboard, but as far as I can remember, there's no redundancy involved. The letters may be in difference places, but I'm pretty sure none were duplicated.
    – TripeHound
    Sep 1, 2020 at 13:19
  • Interestingly, French-speaking Quebec uses the QWERTY layout. I find this layout for the French language better than the AZERTY one. The Quebec layout is better thought out in my opinion as it also lets one use a capital É and put diacritics on other capital letters, including Ç. The AZERTY keyboard does not allow for this.
    – Peter Webb
    Jun 19 at 5:23

1 Answer 1


How did the keyboard layouts develop historically?

Did you have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZERTY#History and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QWERTY ?

In the beginning, there was not a keyboard layout. Each keyboard manufacturer. In fact, early Sholes typewriters had the keys arranged alphabetically. Trying to solve a jamming problem (and probably also based on letters frequency and users' feedback) is how the initial QWERTY layout was born. The success of the Remington No. 2 of 1878 made this very popular.

AZERTY (just like QWERTZ or QZERTY) is basically a QWERTY variation adapted for a given language (based on the assumption that it would be better to type a given language if certain letters that are very frequent on them appear on the home row).

Why haven't France, Belgium, and Luxembourg reformed this redundancy by using the QWERTY keyboard instead of the AZERTY keyboard?

Why should they use QWERTY? Do note that it isn't an optimal keyboard layout, either. Why aren't you -I assume- using QWERTY and not DVORAK?

There are lots and lots of users that learnt to type in AZERTY. There would be an high cost of changing to a different layout. Plus, there are lots and lots of physical keyboards in those places showing an AZERTY layout.

There is a cost of switching to something else. In fact, a BEPO layout would be preferable from a theoretical point of view. However, it would be costly for users to retrain themselves into a different layout. And with most computers in the country using AZERTY, that would put them in a disadvantage when using a different computer. This makes them to continue using AZERTY. Just like other countries continue using QWERTY.

Note: there was recently a keyboard layout standardization by French AFNOR (NF Z71‐300), but it kept the position of AZERTY letters, see https://norme-azerty.fr/ (there was an accompanying BEPO layout, too)

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