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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Alyssa Nitta asks, "Why are keypads on phones arranged in ascending order while keypads on calculators are the other way around?"
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Hi, I'm Craig. I'm arranged in ascending order and this is Mental Floss on Youtube. Today, I'm going to answer Alyssa Nitta's big question: why are keypads on phones arranged in ascending order while keypads on calculators are the other way around? 

So what Alyssa is referring to here is how phones tend to have the 1, 2, and 3 buttons in the top row and calculators do the opposite, the have 7, 8, and 9 in the top row. We can't know for sure why this is, but we do know that both the phone and the calculator keypads evolved from earlier versions of each technology.

Then the separate systems stuck before engineers had a chance to  standardize one keypad. But that's good, diversity is good. Come on guys it's the 90's. Let's get started!

*mental_floss intro music plays*

So, in order to answer this question...order, get it? Order? Ha!

I'm going to have to give you a little history on the phone and the calcualator. 

Rotary dial telephones were invented in the US during the early 1900's. The holes in the phone were numbered from one to nine in order with a zero after the nine. By the 60's push button phones with a keypad that we know today had taken over.

And some of those phones were shaped like pianos. Some were pink, for young girls because they were sexist back then.

Before push button phones were officially released, studies were conducted to determine what the most efficient keypad was.

The goal was to find the best way to arrange numbers so that there was few errors in dialing as possible. For example there was an article published in a 1955 issue of The Journal of Applied Psychology about this. It stated that, "People arrange numbers and letters in the order in which they normally read."

At this point companies realized that there were so many possible combinations for button arrangement. Well yeah there was like, 9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9, many possible combinations. Well actually, numbers couldn't repeat so it's actually less than that but it was still a lot.

While doing trials of push button phones they couldn't try all the different possible arrangements, so they tested out combinations that made logical sense and ones that customers would expect.

According to a 1960's study conducted by Bell's Lab. People preferred a design that involved two rows of buttons that read horizontally.

In early trials people were able to dial those the fastest with the least amount of mistakes but companies went with the order we still use today because they consider it to be the simplest and most efficient. Despite the study.

Later in 1967, Texas Instruments made it's first hand held calculator prototype. Unlike the phone keypad that was already in use they installed buttons that had 7 through 9 in the top row. Cause, that's how they row. No, the pattern was inspired by desktop adding machines of the past.

By this time the two separate systems were established. People got used to them, and companies never saw a reason to switch to a standard keypad pattern.

If companies don't see a reason, it's not gonna be in season. I really forced that rhyme there. 

Thanks for watching mental_floss which is made with the help of all these nice people arranged in ascending order. If you have a big question of your own that you would like to be answered leave it below in the comments.