The Economics Of Qwerty

History, Theory, Policy: Essays by Stan J. Liebowitz and Steven E. Margolis

248 pages

February, 2002

ISBN: 9780814751787


Peter Lewin is Senior Lecturer in Economics, Finance, and Management at the School of Management of the University of Texas in Dallas. Stan J. Liebowit is Professor of Economics in the School of Management of the University of Texas in Dallas. Stephen E. Margolis is Professor of Economics and head of the Department of Economics at North Carolina State University.

All books by Peter Lewin

The top left hand side of the keyboard reads "Q-W-E-R-T-Y." Is this inefficient layout an inefficient early development to which we are now forever committed? The "economics of QWERTY" describes cases in which it has been claimed that technologies which have become accepted are not as good as rival technologies. Perhaps they have been "locked in" at an early stage, preventing newer, better possibilities from taking hold.

Distinguished economists Stan Liebowitz and Steven Margolis have critically examined the various aspects of the economics of QWERTY and its implications, calling into question the historical accuracy of the standard account of QWERTY and similar cases such as those of Beta/VHS and Macintosh/Windows. They contend that no plausible case of inferior standards being locked in has ever been documented, though much antitrust activity and legislative policy has been based on the belief in the occurrence of such cases.

The Economics of Qwerty brings together into one volume Liebowitz and Margolis's essential contributions, remarkable for their eloquence and relevance, to consider these issues, which are of real and enduring importance for the functioning of the market economy. Together they constitute a complete account of the critique of the economics of QWERTY.


  • "Liebowitz and Margolis are masters of neoclassical theory. The book mixes theoretical and historical analysis, effectively confronting one with the other, and exposing both their weaknesses and strenghs."