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QWERTY and the search for optimality

Author

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  • Neil M Kay

    () (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde)

Abstract

This paper shows how one of the developers of QWERTY continued to use the trade secret that underlay its development to seek further efficiency improvements after its introduction. It provides further evidence that this was the principle used to design QWERTY in the first place and adds further weight to arguments that QWERTY itself was a consequence of creative design and an integral part of a highly efficient system rather than an accident of history. This further serves to raise questions over QWERTY’s forced servitude as “paradigm case†of inferior standard in the path dependence literature. The paper also shows how complementarities in forms of intellectual property rights protection played integral roles in the development of QWERTY and the search for improvements on it, and also helped effectively conceal the source of the efficiency advantages that QWERTY helped deliver.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil M Kay, 2013. "QWERTY and the search for optimality," Working Papers 1324, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:str:wpaper:1324
    as

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    File URL: http://www.strath.ac.uk/media/1newwebsite/departmentsubject/economics/research/researchdiscussionpapers/2013/13-24FINAL.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lewin, Peter, 2001. "The Market Process and the Economics of QWERTY: Two Views," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 14(1), pages 65-96, March.
    2. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-131, March.
    3. Stanley M. Besen & Leo J. Raskind, 1991. "An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Intellectual Property," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 3-27, Winter.
    4. Raghu Garud & Arun Kumaraswamy & Peter Karnøe, 2010. "Path Dependence or Path Creation?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 760-774, June.
    5. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1990. "The Fable of the Keys," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-25, April.
    6. Tanjim Hossain & John Morgan, 2009. "The Quest for QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 435-440, May.
    7. Ottoz, Elisabetta & Cugno, Franco, 2011. "Choosing the scope of trade secret law when secrets complement patents," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 219-227.
    8. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Arora, Ashish, 1997. "Patents, licensing, and market structure in the chemical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 391-403, December.
    10. Jean-Philippe Vergne & Rodolphe Durand, 2010. "The Missing Link Between the Theory and Empirics of Path Dependence: Conceptual Clarification, Testability Issue, and Methodological Implications," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 736-759, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. QWERTY – Kay’s analysis of a non sub-optimal standard
      by bbatiz in NEP-HIS blog on 2014-04-16 22:23:06

    More about this item

    Keywords

    QWERTY; invention; path dependence; path creation; patents; trade secrets;

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