The QWERTY keyboard is one of the greatest inventions of the last century. Its creation was of utmost importance in the configuration of the keyboard we use every day, both physically and digitally, to type the words we use every day. It is not a coincidence, nor are they randomly placed, but serve a linguistic purpose (the A next to the S, the L on the far right, or the gigantic space bar below all the letters).
In Yekaterinburg, Russia, a sculptor made the most impressive reproduction of a QWERTY keyboard. It occupies a space of 15.24 by 3.96 meters, is made of heavy concrete blocks on the banks of the Iset River, and is believed to be the largest keyboard in the world.
The “Keyboard Monument” is the work of Russian sculptor Anatoly Vyatkin and was installed in 2005. It is made on a scale of 30:1, and each of its keys can weigh 450 kilograms. The weight is one of the reasons it has remained intact for almost twenty years: it’s not like someone could easily lift the key of the initial letter of their name to take it home. However, in the mid-2000s, the F1, F2, and F3 keys and the letter Y went missing and were later replaced in 2011.
This gigantic keyboard is one of the main tourist attractions in Yekaterinburg, especially for technology and computer enthusiasts. And it has its legend. It is said that if you type the word “wish” in English, followed by the Enter key, the “magic” keyboard will fulfill the wish you make. It may also work if you type “zhelaniye” in Russian. To achieve this, it is not enough to step on the keys in order; it is necessary to jump over them one by one. What would happen if someone managed to type CTRL + Alt + Delete? Let’s not think about that!
If you ever visit the giant keyboard in Yekaterinburg, you’ll be glad to know that there are annual celebrations dedicated to this hardware monument. On the last Friday of July, for example, it is a meeting point for the city’s engineers. They all participate in competitions such as “mouse throwing” or “lifting empty hard drives” on Sysadmin Day, the holiday dedicated to system and server administrators.
Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva