Why do some keys lose their letter, number or punctuation symbol so much sooner than others?

 Like many people, I am familiar with the computer keyboard.

And while I use it often and appreciate it, I also have several questions about the computer keyboard.

For example, why are capital I and lowercase l so similar? Usually after I type one or the other, I have to look at them closely to try to figure out which is which. And what about 1? Why can’t we make them all a little more different?

Here are a few additional items:

When do I use a forward slash \? I had to search for it on my computer when I wrote this. It seems like the backslash / is much more popular. What is the main difference between / and \? Some keyboards even have a vertical slash |, which is even more confusing.

Why can’t we have one button for control-alt-delete? Lots of directions want you to press all three buttons simultaneously (even though my keyboard doesn’t actually have an alt button). It seems like one button on the keyboard should be able to do the same work more efficiently.

What is ^ for? It has a fairly prominent place above the 6, but I have no idea why anyone would use that. What do you even call it? The up arrow thingy?

Why can’t O and 0 be a little more different? Looking at it now, apparently the number is skinnier than the letter, at least with this font, but they are still quite confusing. People often use 0 and O interchangeably in conversations, and I have a hard time knowing which is which in type, especially if one of them is used in an email address. The email addresses are also confusing for I, 1 and l I mentioned in that paragraph located in this direction ^.

Why are there so many types of brackets and parentheses? We have ( ), [ ], { } and even < >. Why do we need so many of these? Are they for if you use a parentheses within a parentheses within a parentheses? How would I (not l [this reminds me, the word Iliad looks funny to type]) even do that?

What is this ` for at the top left of the keyboard? It looks like an accent mark, but I don’t know how to use it. And how is `different from ‘, or are they the same?

I have no use for the control button. Am I missing something important that everyone else is using? I have no control over much of anything in life, so it seems appropriate that I would not use control on my keyboard.

How does caps lock act like an automatic shift for the letter keys but it doesn’t affect the number keys? I honestly didn’t know it would work that way before I tested it just now.

Why do the letters on the keypads rub off so easily? It’s hard for someone young to learn to type on an old computer like mine because the letters on half of the keys are quite worn.

My Z key looks brand new. Same with X, and surprisingly also P. I press P plenty, but maybe my pinky finger presses politely and gently so the letter won’t disappear.

Every time I use the escape key at work it never works. I’m still there.

What is this ~ for? It’s just a wavy hyphen. I have seen it in website URLs, but does it really deserve such a prominent place on the keyboard? Is there any use for it in writing? I honestly don’t know.

Wouldn’t it be nice for the return button to ring a bell like they did on the old typewriters? It was very satisfying to hit return and then hear all of that noise.

Why won’t my keyboard type out better content? All I can come up with is columns like this one.

Nick Claussen is a freelance writer with too much time on his hands. To read more of his work, please visit Thanks.

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