If Zero comes before One, why is it after 9?

Yeah, what’s up with this? Look at your computer keyboard, your phone, calculator, tv or vcr remote, the number one comes first but the number 0 is after the 9. Shouldn’t the 0 come before the one? Obviously not, as they would have designed it that way, so what’s happening?

Huge WAG here:

Generally, when we number ten things, we start with 1 and end with 10.

Look again. There are two basic patterns for 10-key devices: 1 at the top and 0 at the bottom (like your phone) and 9 at the top and 0 at the bottom (like a calculator).

From *The Last Word[/], from the publishers of New Scientist magazine.

That explains the telephone pad, and the other is, IMO, more logical so that’s all right. (It is a carry over from the 10-key adding machine and the above article suggested it was because of the mechanical makeup of the machine.) But that top row on the keyboard is still a problem. If the “qwerty” keyboard was invented after the telephone dial maybe there was some carry over, but I think the typewriter came first.

Heck, two out of three ain’t bad!

p.s. I have to confess I had a hard time typing “qwerty” because it’s such an unusual word. About halfway through it hit me! Duh!

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Well numerically 0 does indeed come before 1 since 0 is nothing and 1 is somewhat greater than nothing. From a positioning point of view. You cannot start a number with 0 on a calculator so you would not put it first, you cannot dial a 0 first, so it would not go first, and in typing it only goes after other numbers (in general) so you would not put it as the primary key.


The one key, at least, was not always on keyboards (I don’t think it was ever normally found on manual typewriters); you used lower-case “L” instead, and for the exclamation point, typed period-backspace-apostrophe. The zero may follow the nine because it would have looked silly next to the two.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams