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QWERTY and the search for optimality

  • Neil M Kay

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde)

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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.strath.ac.uk/media/departments/economics/researchdiscussionpapers/2013/13-24FINAL.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1324.

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    Length: 23 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2013
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published
    Handle: RePEc:str:wpaper:1324
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    Web page: http://www.strath.ac.uk/economics/
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    1. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-31, March.
    2. Arora, Ashish, 1997. "Patents, licensing, and market structure in the chemical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 391-403, December.
    3. Wesley M Cohen & Richard R Nelson & John P Walsh, 2003. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (Or Not)," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000624, David K. Levine.
    4. Ottoz, Elisabetta & Cugno, Franco, 2010. "Choosing the scope of trade secret law when secrets complement patents," MPRA Paper 20672, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Lewin, Peter, 2001. " The Market Process and the Economics of QWERTY: Two Views," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 65-96, March.
    6. Raghu Garud & Arun Kumaraswamy & Peter Karnøe, 2010. "Path Dependence or Path Creation?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 760-774, 06.
    7. 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.
    8. 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, 06.
    9. Tanjim Hossain & John Morgan, 2009. "The Quest for QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 435-40, May.
    10. 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.
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