numeric keypads

On my computer, pocket spellchecker/translator, and calculator, the numbers start in the lower left corner, bottom to top. on my phone, TV remote, shortwave receiver, and radio scanner, it’s upper left corner, top to bottom. Top to bottom, left to right, being the way European based languages are written and read, I can see the logic in that, but does anyone know of a reason, commercial, conspiratorial, or other, that some should start “from the ground up”, as it were?
–Alan Q

Well, four, five, and six are used most often, so of course they put them in the middle row.


Just kidding. Actually, I’ve wondered about this for a long time. My parents bought a “very cute” phone in Denmark that has the buttons in the reverse order of U.S. phones, i.e. the same order as U.S. keypads. So don’t dial a familiar number on it without looking!

Numeric keypads are based on old adding machines, which had the lower numbers on the bottom. I suspect there was a mechanical reason for doing this: on the adding machine I remember in my youth, the higher the number, the higher the key stuck up. I think this was because pressing the key turned wheels that kept track of the total; the 1 moved the wheel one place, while 9 moved it nine (and if you didn’t press it firmly to the bottom, it would register another number). Because of this, it was easier to reach the keys if the lower numbers were at the bottom.

The adding machine model went to pocket calculators, and later to numeric keypads.

I’d guess that phone started with the numbers at the top because they are roughly at the top of a dial phone (though the buttons read from left to right instead of in a circle).