Friday, May 18, 2018

Did you learn QWERTY without looking?

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm of the generation that took typing (and stenography, heaven help me) in high school because with that in my resume, I'd never be unemployed. According to my mother.

Back then: Ladies typed. Gents dictated.

My summer school typing class was packed. Anyone else remember learning on a typewriter with blank keys?

Do schools teach touch-typing any more, or do kids just arrive in
the world with their umbilicus attached to a keyboard? Does anyone give 'thumbing' classes, because I could use one instead of stabbing my index finger at my cell phone's virtual keyboard.

"Touch type" anyone? How did you learn? And do the men in your family do it?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My parents had their own business and my mom did the typing and the bookkeeping, but I do remember
my dad typing his own letters sometimes. I doubt he was a touch typist, though. I managed to finagle my mom into typing papers for me all the way through high school and my first year of college.

Then my parents sent me to secretarial school so that, regardless of future education, I'd have the skills to support myself. For this I am forever grateful!! (Can you imagine writing and editing a manuscript in longhand???)
But I suspect that "secretarial schools" have fallen by the wayside. (Do people even use the term "touch typing" anymore?) So where do people learn all of those skills, because there are certainly still a lot of jobs that require them?

Hallie, I didn't learn to type on blank keys, but my secretarial school used IBM Selectrics (yes, that's how long ago it was) in their classes, and I was permanently bonded to the IBM keyboard. My laptops have for many years been Lenovo Thinkpads--which used to be made by IBM and have keypads that are famous for duplicating the same touch as the IBM Selectric.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I took typing in high school--the keyboards DID have letters. And I am pretty sure there were no electric typewriters.  We had manual ones, Underwood, I think.
Anyway.  Sisters, I was TERRIBLE. I never learned to touch type, like we were supposed to, because I was too impatient, and realized I could just memorize the paragraph and then look at the keys and type it, and that was faster.  Also ridiculous.

So, weirdly, now I am a really fast typist, and can touch type amazingly well--as long as I am not trying to. If I try to, disaster. If I just go with it, and Zen it, I'm a whiz.

Now, usually I look at the keys, but I am still so impatient that my brain goes faster than the keys can work, so my work is fraught with typos. FRAUGHT.   And I wind up typing everything twice, essentially, to fix all the mistakes. SO DUMB.

LUCY BURDETTE:  I’m pretty sure I learned in high school, though there was the secretarial track and the academic track, and I definitely was not secretary material. In college, where I majored in French literature, I had a little manual typewriter with all the French accents on it to write my thesis. I am so sorry that I got rid
of that little machine now!

By the time I got to graduate school, I was a pretty good typist. Never will be as fast as Hallie, though, I’ve seen her type and it’s like a wildfire! Now I have a special ergonomic keyboard so I had to relearn where the keys are. They gave you a little booklet with all these exercises to do. And boy did I hate dedicating the time. But it was worth it and now I use it easily.

RHYS BOWEN: The typewriter was my enemy! I never learned
typing at my highly academic girls school. I was given a portable typewriter for my 17 th birthday and cursed that the ideas flowed more quickly than my fingers moved.

I finally took a typing course in my twenties but I was never very good and actually sent my early manuscripts out to be typed, thus cutting considerably into my profits! Then computers were invented... Happiest day of my life! At last I could type as fast as I could think, and never had to make spelling errors.

INGRID THOFT: I have one name for you:  Mavis Beacon


Typing was not on the curriculum at school, but shortly after college graduation when I was job searching, I devoted time each day to learning to type with Mavis Beacon.  Mavis is a fabulous software program—yes, it’s still available!—that makes learning to type a breeze. 

I remember sitting at the kitchen table playing Mavis’ fun games, the result of which is I type like a speed racer today.  I can’t imagine writing without being able to type, and I urge all the young people I know to spend some time with Mavis.  Regardless of the path they may take in life, stellar typing skills will always be an asset.

JENN McKINLAY: I did take typing in high school. It was
mandatory for boys and girls. I didn't much care for it. I could never figure out why the letters didn't just go in alphabetical order and it was not intuitive at all, plus I had to sit next to Kevin Smith, football player, who used to get frustrated and punch the keys...with his fist. I'm a better typist now but I still glance at the keyboard occasionally.

I may have to visit Ingrid's Mavis B because if I could type even faster, well, LOOK OUT!


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: In high school, when they offered typing, my mother suggested I NOT take it, since then I'd get stuck doing the secretarial work in whatever job I was in. Which was great advice from an ambitious feminist, right up until the computer revolution, when suddenly everyone was expected to type their own stuff. Well, and I became an author. (Side note: my mom herself is a really good typist, and used to do all my papers in high school. Thanks, Mom!)

For high school graduation, I got a fancy Selectric with the white
tape that enabled you to erase without using Wite-Out(TM). I became a fast enough four-fingered typist that I would regularly snarl the elements (for the youth reading this, the letters were on actual, physical slugs of metal, and if you got too many of them near one another at the same time, they would catch on each other.) I tended to use Hank's technique: I would remember the sentence or paragraph in the draft and just reproduce it while looking at the keys. This means that now, as I draft on my laptop, I still look at the keys and not the page as I go along. Not the best form, but I seem to get it done.

BTW - and Jenn may back me up with the Hooligans experience - but none of my kids took formal typing in high school. Instead, they learned playing keyboard games when they were very young, and are all natural touch typists now. And thumb-typists on their phones, but that's a different conversation...



HALLIE: 'Fess up. Do you need to look at the keys? Do you type with all your fingers or just stab the keyboard with your index finger? And how can I learn to thumb?

94 comments:

  1. I took typing [on a manual typewriter] and bookkeeping in high school . . . for that “you’ll always be able to get a job” reason.
    I do type with all my fingers and I don’t look at the keyboard. I don’t do well with index-finger-stabbing. In fact, when a tumble down one stair left me broken and suddenly one-handed [the other arm being confined to a sling], one-handed typing made me so crazy I installed a speech recognition program on my computer so that the computer would type whatever I said. And since I can’t figure out how to thumb effectively, I use the speech program on my phone, too . . . .

    Ah, Ingrid, I remember Mavis Beacon! Good to know she’s still around . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  2. Julia, I hadn't thought about jamming up the letters for a long time! I used to do that, too. I took typing in ninth grade, I think, a class my mother insisted all us kids take (including my brother). I do look down sometimes but mostly I look at the screen. My father was a good typist - he typed his master's thesis and wrote very long single-spaced letters to relatives and to us after we'd moved out.

    Yes, the Selectric! It was so fast and much easier to hit the keys. The fastest typists I have know are also pianists - it must use the same part of the brain.

    Hallie, I've been trying to train myself to thumb. If my sons with their very broad thumbs can do it (who had the Mavis Beacon software, too), I should be able to, too! And it does go faster.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The one bright spot-They're all going to have arthritic thumbs.

      Delete
  3. I took Typing in high school. That's how I'm able to do the writing I do now. I'm a decent typist and rarely have to look at the keyboard (as evidence, I submit this very reply I am typing now.)

    And I use all the fingers, not the hunt-and-peck index finger method.

    It might just be the most useful thing I learned in school other than the ability to add and subtract.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What, you never have to solve a quadratic equation on the job?

      Delete
    2. That would be a big fat NO! :D

      Delete
  4. I took two semesters of typing in high school. My dad was like Hallie's mom and pushed me to take it so I'd always have a back=up job,even though he fully supported me on the college track. I resented it then, and I was really awful at first, but I'm forever grateful. I'm a pretty fast typist now, and for the most part, don't look at the keys.

    One thing I'd do in high school, is without even realizing it, finish the sentences differently than in the book or in dictation. I wouldn't really think about it, but I'd look down and my mind would have jumped ahead and crafted its own ending. I guess the writer in me was creating even in typing class!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so cool! Like the elf in your head.

      Delete
    2. this is so fun! I bet the endings were better, too...

      Delete
  5. I learned on a manual typewriter in Grade 11 - the most useful course I took in high school, I always say. The next step was the IBM Selectric with those little golfball-style replacements for all those keys that would jam. Then I hit the jackpot with a Selectric that had a 2-line memory in it that enabled erasing of mistakes with neither White-Out nor overtyping. Remarkable! I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of DOS-based computers, but I became a convert once I realized the benefits of typing to a screen rather than a sheet of rolled-in paper.

    For a quick laugh, watch this very short clip of a woman confusing a PC for a manual typewriter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB3TuLM-6ys

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember those word processor/typewriters. I took one with me to college. Computers were *just* becoming popular. I thought I was the height of cool with a machine that let me proof the lines before committing them to paper.

      Mary/Liz

      Delete
    2. When I did the payroll for my husband's business, I had to file monthly, later quarterly, state withholding reports that had to be typed. Ridiculous. Since my typing was so bad, I bought one of those word processing typewriters with a one-line display, so I wouldn't keep messing it up. It was worth its weight in gold, just to reduce my anxiety.

      Delete
  6. We had a 'business' track and a 'college prep' track in high school and never the twain shall meet, as it were--there was no wiggle room in the schedules to plug in something like typing. So I'm a hunt-and-peck type of person. I have tried to teach myself to type, but my brain stays ahead of my fingers. I jumped at the chance to own a home-computer so I could type my dissertation without using Wite-out or having to run to Kinko's to make copies of chapters/final copies for my committee/defense. And all of my early stories were handwritten, then typed on a manual, then I retyped some of them using the computer to make revision, editing, etc., easier. I envy my sister, who types like a maniac and never makes a mistake (maybe I should look up Mavis!).

    ReplyDelete
  7. I took typing in high school on an IBM Selectric - but I think the keys had letters. I touch type all the time (doing it now) and used to be able to do 95 words per minute.

    My husband does NOT touch type.

    Julia is right. Neither of my kids "officially" took typing, but they've been working with keyboards and computers for so long, they learned as part of computer classes. The Girl is pretty good and I think she taught herself touch-typing. Not sure about The Boy.

    Mary/Liz

    ReplyDelete
  8. I tried Mavis Beacon, actually, too! Maybe 20 years ago! I still couldn’t do it, I would memorize the sentences.
    But I definitely remember all the key is getting jammed.
    Thinking about this, I actually began to type before high school, at my grandmothers house. She had one of those cool typewriters in a suitcase, you know?
    And I so much loved the idea of typing that I would re-type the vocabulary words from Readers Digest. Just so I would have something to type!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also I loved the rolling of the paper in... and the grabbing it and whipping it out. The sound of the PING. Hitting that carriage return with the heel of your hand and slamming it home. Typing... as a contact sport.

      Delete
    2. Oh Hallie, I remember the satisfying feeling of slamming that cartridge back! And yes, the wonderful PING sound! Haven't thought of those in years!!!

      Delete
    3. I miss the sound of the return on time writer and the keys. So nostalgic.

      Delete
    4. I love hearing this. Learned to type in high school. I think I can type faster than the young uns’. I used the Selectric in the 80’s. But i do have trouble with texting with my thumbs.

      Delete
    5. Oh, absolutely! The ping! And the return. Aw.

      Delete
  9. I have been singing the praises of Fred Smith, my high school math teacher (really small high school - he taught math and physics so I had him in 10-12th grade), for years. When we came back to school at the beginning of 11th grade, he told us about a computer course he had taken over the summer, and said, "Computers are the way of the future and all of you need to be able to type well. Forget taking the personal typing course, you need the business typing." We did, and I learned on a manual typewriter. To get an A in the course, you had to be able to type at 90 words a minute for five minutes with less than 5 errors in the whole document. Got a C. At that time, my perspective was that it ruined my cumulative average and was a big mistake. But as I was able to easily type my college papers, work my way through law school as a legal secretary, and now, write a lot, I am extremely grateful. Told a lot of people about him, before it finally occurred to me that I should also tell him, so in 1993, I sent him a letter thanking him for that great advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wedding yesterday's blog to today's... Thanks, V!

      Delete
  10. Junior high typing class for me. My kids must have learned word processing at school, because they regularly "typed" their papers by middle school, in addition to their social media use. It was part of the kid package, like programming the VCR. They knew how to do it.


    In March, I explored the American Writers Museum in Chicago. Brand new, and well-worth a visit. I tested all the typewriters and marveled how clunky and heavy the IBM selectric was. Much prefer my Lenovo laptop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not know there WAS an American Writers Museum in Chicago - Thanks for the tip!

      Delete
  11. I took Typewriting I as an elective freshman year of high school and found it to be so much fun that I asked for (and received) a portable typewriter that year for Christmas. Every book report and mid-term thereafter was typewritten. I was hooked!

    In the 1970s, girls did not take shop classes, and guys did not take typing (in my school district, anyway). Ironic, isn't it, at a time when the women's movement was really hitting its stride? A girl in my class tried to sign up for Mechanical Drawing (now probably called Architectural Drafting), and she was refused...until her mother came to school and demanded she be allowed to take it! There were still Home Economics ("Home Ec") classes (cooking, sewing...God, I'm old, aren't I?) for young ladies who were not on either the academic or business track back then.

    One thing led to another for me, and I decided I wanted to be a high school Business Education teacher. My typing skills topped out at 100 wpm (with accuracy!), and I could take dictation at about 140 wpm, which means I was sometimes waiting for the person dictating to continue! I can still accurately type around the same speed and read steno notes, although actually taking dictation would probably be challenging. Sometimes, I will write myself a note in steno just to see if I can.

    We had a half-day work program for seniors in my school district (mornings in class, afternoons at an office job the school helped arrange for you). My skills were so good, my first job was as a legal secretary. From there, I advanced to paralegal (the law firm paid some of my college costs; I went in the evenings). Then I thought, well, why not become a lawyer? But a communications course turned me toward radio broadcasting (I DJ'd a blues show on the college's station)...then marketing caught my attention...then real estate...Look! A squirrel!!

    But in every job I ever had, that typing sure came in handy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I learned Gregg shorthand... I can still do it. Problem is I can't now (and never could) read my own steno.

      Delete
    2. I learned it, too, Hallie. And promptly forgot everything once I left the class.

      Delete
    3. Yes, me, too, in secretarial school, and I got an A. But then I went on get a degree in biology and the shorthand flew right out of my head. I still use a few little shortcuts but I wish I could remember the rest...

      Delete
  12. I hit high school with a wave of feminism, and announced to everyone that I wasn't going to be a secretary, so I didn't need to take typing and shorthand. Then I went off to college (and later got a job as a reporter) and spent all my time writing down what people said and typing it up later. Sigh. When my mother, the art teacher, told me they were phasing out the typing classes at my old high school, I asked her to swipe a typing manual for me. I used that to teach myself touch typing. I rarely look at the keyboard now--and then only to figure out how to reposition it if it moves off to one side and my fingers get off the home keys. My keyboard at work is so old many of the letters have worn off. I'd have to look closely to visually sort out the e-r-t row.

    My late husband, who was 11 years older than me, was of the generation where men didn't learn to type, but his father insisted that he learn because there was still a military draft, Vietnam was ramping up, and soldiers who could type were assigned to HQ rather than being sent out into the field as infantrymen. As a theory, it worked pretty well, although being assigned to HQ did not, in the end, mean Warren stayed out of battle zones.

    No thumbing here. I am in awe of the kids I know, and their speed at texting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So interesting, typing as a battle deferment.

      Delete
    2. One of the two guys in my high school typing class also did not have to go to Vietnam, because of his typing skill.

      I just found this out a year or so ago.

      Delete
    3. Warren actually went to Vietnam, but he didn't have to go out on patrol or stuff like that. He did, however, work in "Casualty Liaison," which meant that he had to go out into the field after the battle to figure out who had died, and who had been sent back to the hospital.

      Delete
  13. And does anyone remember The Katherine Gibbs Secretarial Schools? That was a thing when I was in school. It was, as I recall, pretty hoity-toity...a "Katherine Gibbs Girl" was required to wear dresses/skirt suits, hosiery, and WHITE GLOVES!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they even had boarding houses where the aspiring secretaries could live... or maybe that was something else. Gloves. Now that's something that's never made a comeback, unless you count Madonna's fingerless mesh...

      Delete
    2. Even at my secretarial school in the seventies we were required to wear skirts and pantyhose. Which I hated even then.

      Delete
  14. Mrs. Rubin was our typing teacher and she was strict. You only passed her class if you typed 60+wpm with no errors. We learned on a manual typewriter and when we hit that carriage return, the class had to be in sync. We also had the diagram of the keys in front of the class as we could not look down at our keys. I can hear the sound of that carriage return. Then we had the IBM selectric without the built in white-out ball thing. I also remember carbon paper. Hated those.

    I also took stenography, first learning Pitman and then Gregg. I can still remember how to do a few of the easy short cuts.

    I did Mavis Beacon too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carbon sets! And ink erasers!!

      Delete
    2. OMG, carbon paper! It was sometimes necessary to make 4 - 6 - or even more sets of certain pleadings -- no photocopies allowed. When we got Selectric typewriters where you could backspace to "erase" an incorrect letter, you still had to manually erase all the carbon copies! I'd completely forgotten about that. When "word processors" were introduced, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!

      Delete
  15. I did take a typing class in high school but I was awful! For some reason I am a much better typist now. Well except for all the additional letters that somehow get in there.
    Just the other day my eighth grade granddaughter was complaining that the school didn't offer keyboarding. It took me a minute to realize what she meant. I told her I thought it would come with practice but she doesn't think so since she's getting pretty good with 2 fingers. As for texting on her phone I don't know how that compares.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KEYBOARDING!! Wouldn'tcha know this generation would come up with a hipper word for it. Snowboarding. Skateboarding. Boogie boarding...

      Delete
  16. I took typing in high school. My mother told me I would need it, and she was right. We learned on manual typewriters. The keys were not blank, but we were strongly encouraged not to look at them. I don't remember exactly how I learned qwerty, but I have been a touch-typist since 1973, and I only look at keys now and then for numbers and special symbols. The odd thing is that I only know where the letters are, if I am typing. If you asked me to write out the order of the keys on the board without looking, I couldn't do it. I can't tell you which finger hits which letter, but I have typed this entire reply without looking. It's a mystery. My brain is now just wired for typing. It's a good thing, because my handwriting is lousy. I've spent many years behind a keyboard, because I became a systems administrator, and at times, taught computer classes. I'd say it's been one of my top 3 skills, along with driving and cooking....the necessities of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true - where the keys are is completely a muscle memory.

      Delete
    2. Driving, cooking, typing, and balancing a checkbook! Now I wonder if anyone even remembers balancing checkbooks!

      Delete
  17. Oh, ouch. Worst advice ever from an always useless guidance department was that my senior year schedule was too "crowded" and I should skip taking personal use typing. Seriously??? Regretted that every day of my college life.I did indeed write a few books with a pencil in a notebook because my laborious typing interfered with my creative process. After years of then transcribing, and a working life with lots of computer keyboarding, I finally reached the point of composing on the keyboard. Very fast, so inaccurate it looks like a foreign language. Spell check is a BIG part of my process. Against the usual stereotype, the touch typist in my house is my husband. He claims he taught himself before college.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, spell check is my friend, too. Though auto-correct often changes the meaning of what I wrote in...interesting ways.

      Delete
    2. I'm surprised anyone takes guidance counselors seriously.

      By the way, I took Typing 1 and Typing 2 in school. One of the teachers was a woman I think was Mrs. Ferarra. She was strict. No chewing gum in class. And then on her final day, she gave everyone bubble gum.

      But she was part of what gave me the modicum of typing skill that I have today so obviously good on her.

      Delete
    3. Spellcheck: it's a love/hate relationship. Haha!

      Delete
  18. I took typing in high school. The first year was on a manual typewriter with the keys covered. The second year was in an IBM Selectric. I also went to secretarial school and had to type really fast to graduate. I’ve always had jobs where I had to type on a typewriter and later on a computer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KEYS COVERED! I wonder if secretarial schools even still exist.

      Delete
    2. I know the one I went to in Dallas closed several years ago.

      Delete
  19. In my high school it was either/or -- business or academic -- and I was academic. My Mom typed my papers in high school, and then I was off to college. With a portable typewriter. And, I learned by doing . . .

    When I was first married, my husband and I spent a summer in Washington, DC. He had a "work study" job in a Senate office, and I volunteered at McGovern for President (summer of 1971). Yes, with Frank Mankiewitz and Gary Hart and the guys. The first question was "Can you type?" And I said no.

    I spent that summer working on the "Issues Book" -- researching speeches and legislation, and creating a handbook to send all over the country to local campaigns. It was organized by topic so if, for example, someone asked about Agriculture, the campaigner could quote Senator McGovern and cite legislation he had sponsored!!

    That said, I do type. And I typed my husband's law school papers. And I still do his typing (after a 40 year respite when he had the most wonderful secretaries on God's earth).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone (can't remember who) just said she claimed not to know how to tape during a job interview, just so she'd end up with a job a wrung up. Hank, was that you?

      Delete
    2. Thankful that we all speak fluent typo

      Delete
  20. I took typing in school, it was required. And such a useful skill. I can type with all my fingers, without looking, at a decent speed. My mind does tend to think faster than my fingers still, so that causes some troubles. (Just took a typing test online and got 58 wpm with 98% accuracy.)

    What I wish I had taken was shorthand. Oh, what I would give to have that skill now. It would make note taking so much easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best way for me to capture someone's words is to audio record and transcribe.

      Delete
    2. I found a typing test online and took it.

      I did 88 wpm with 96% accuracy.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, well, I took a IQ test on line and came out Stephen Hawking

      Delete
    4. Oh, Ann, thank you for once again bringing joy! :-)

      Delete
  21. I learned on a manual typewriter in high school and yep, I typed so fast I jammed the keys all the time! I still bang my keyboard to this day!

    Does anyone remember the Xerox Memorywriter? It had a tiny window that showes about 20 characters and you could fix mistakes quickly if you caught them. But the best part about it was the adjustments: you could increase the keyboard resistance for us key-pounders! I always set it to maximum.

    I'm like the place keyboards go to for punishment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alice, I don't think I CAN type hard enough to work the keys on the Remington manual typewriter that I learned on.

      Delete
  22. I took a typing class for a couple years of high school We started on typewriters then "graduated" to computers. I still consider it one of the most useful classes I took in high school. I type everyday. I do NOT use pre-calculus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No disses from me on calculus. My husband teaches it.

      Delete
  23. Typing is the only thing I learned in high school that I used after I got out. I remember typing “The Raven” over and over so I could both memorize the poem and practice touch typing. I guess I invented cross-curriculum learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How clever of you, And!
      The Raven! Memorization...that's another thing that's gone the way of the dodo. "This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines" "Up from the meadows rich with corn,
      Clear in the cool September morn"

      Delete
    2. There goes auto-correct, changing Ang to And...

      Delete
  24. I'm a terrible typist, even now, having barely managed the 35 wpm without errors in high school. For one thing, we used manual typewriters, and it took a certain amount of finger strength to strike the keys. I missed more keys than I hit. There were two football players in our typing class, and they were both way better than I was. (One went into journalism.) Computers have made such a difference! Although Autocorrect is the devil.

    My husband was an English major, and a football player, who took typing in high school. When he got his first computer, a hand-me-down from my business, he still pounded the crap out of the keyboard for years, a holdover from using manuals.

    Fun fact: older women took to computers and the online world long before men did, largely because we already, many of us, knew how to type. Until the late 80's, early 90's, typing was still not really taught as much to boys. And executives relied on secretaries up until then, and beyond. Older men, in particular, took a really long time to use those newfangled contraptions.

    In the early 2000's I taught computer skills in the community ed program here. The women in the class figured out the keyboard right away, while the older men were completely lost. It was eye-opening.

    My father-in-law was a wildlife cinematographer and photographer, but he wrote a weekly column in the Cincinnati Enquirer about local natural history for five decades, hunting and pecking on a manual typewriter. A dear friend of his, who edited a national magazine and wrote over a dozen books, did it all with two-finger typing. That's akin to writing a symphonic piece without knowing how to read music.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I took typing class in Junior High. Hated it.

    Interesting fact I read many years ago that I haven't bothered to verify for this post :) -- the QWERTY keyboard configuration was done because the previous set up of keys made the typists type TOO FAST thereby causing the striking keys to jam up. Of course, speed typing became a big deal later, the faster the better, and was the bane of my junior high existence.

    ReplyDelete
  26. My mother strongly encouraged that I take business courses in high school, "so you'll always have something to fall back on," so I learned typing and shorthand, both of which were highly useful when I became a reporter after college. I had to transcribe my shorthand soon after the interviews, but I got very fast at typing (so fast I would sometimes get ahead of computers). When I encouraged my daughter to take typing in high school, I was working as an office manager at the time and she told me that, "unlike you, I don't want something 'to fall back on.'" Of course it would have been smart for her to learn typing, given the prevalence of computers in every industry, but I found it hard to argue with her logic, given that I had "fallen back" on my secretarial skills when what I wanted most was to be writing for a living.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I was in the academic track in school, so I took a typing class in summer school during junior high. The keys were blank so I ended up a pretty good touch typist . . . except for numbers. For some reason, I always have to look at them every time while typing. I am having a flashback to that class--I think I had one of four C's in the class, while everyone else got D's and F's. I guess that says something about the teacher. But I never regretted taking the class.

    Over the years I have gotten better at typing, clocking in at about 120 words per minute. It helped me get my first job (as a secretary) after graduating from college with a degree in French that was basically useless but very gratifying. It stood me in good stead throughout my HR management career, and now as newsletter editor of Sisters in Crime NorCal. But my accuracy has gotten worse. Like Hank, I type like crazy and make corrections afterwards.

    My sons, who are now in their thirties, learned to type in elementary school on little red machines called Typewrites (can't find them on Google). One line of text would run on the screen, and the kids had to type it. It worked really well for them.

    ReplyDelete
  28. My kids learned to type with a program I bought for them using the old DOS format: Stickybear Typing. It was cute, and they both started elementary school knowing how to type.

    One comment on typing, and letter writing: Over the last six months, my husband and I have cleared out approximately 70 years' worth of business and personal correspondence from his family business. They kept carbons of every single letter they wrote, and filed it in boxes in the attic and basement. (Yuck, it was gross going through all that.) I could tell by the copies in the files what stage of technology each year represented. First, the flimsies, with erasures and holes in some of the papers (personal correspondence was more likely to have strikeouts only). Then second sheets, usually yellow. Then photocopies. Then copies of email.

    It was like a walk through time, and revealing. Friends who lived less than an hour away would write weekly letters, rather than make long distance phone calls. Some of the men wrote in longhand; some had secretaries write for them. It was fascinating. I learned a lot about my FIL's life I had not know before, and it made me sad for future generations, who will not have this kind of historic record to wade through.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I took a typing course in high school but never got very good at it although it got me through all my papers in college and grad school. Now, I am somewhere between hunt-and-peck and almost-touch. My mother went to business school and learned both typing and shorthand. My sister and I were kidding her recently about the notes she would leave for us that would start out in English and somewhere along the line slide into shorthand. Sometimes chores just didn't get done or we'd have to call her at work to get a translation.

    ReplyDelete
  30. The muscle memory thing is so interesting. If I even think about where the keys are, I can't hit them. And I could not tell you the order of the letters on the querty keyboard!

    I'm a very fast--if sometimes inaccurate typist--but I cannot type with someone looking over my shoulder. It's like the brain to fingers connection shorts out. Why is that, I wonder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That cracked me up, Debs!

      Q-W-E-R-T-Y

      The lefthand letters are worn off my keyboard and it keeps messing me up, if I look.

      Delete
  31. Yes! The qwerty keyboard was set up to slow one down a bit. I've tried other layouts but like was said above, the muscle memory of my fingers make me loathe to switch to anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Check spam filter. No idea what Blue language I used

    ReplyDelete
  33. My parents insisted I take typing in high school so I would be able to type college papers. Huh. Blank keys, manual, and noisy. I have to admit our typing teacher was a really cool lady though. And for some unknown reason (I think I was having a crisis, not knowing what I wanted to do careerwise) I took a typing class and a steno class in college. Still manual typewriters. I wasn't a very good typist under pressure. One gal could type 90 words a minute with no errors. She was so nice I couldn't hate her. Now stenography was a different kettle of fish. Learning Gregg shorthand was like learning a foreign language, Chinese I think. I dropped that course as quickly as possible. I look at the keyboard on my laptop just to make sure I'm in the right position to start typing. After that I'm good to go. No peeking.

    ReplyDelete
  34. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTtDb73NkNM
    The url above is a video about Tom Hanks and his love of the typewriter.
    I have been fascinated and enamored with both the piano and the typewriter. In nursery school and kindergarden all of our teachers played the piano. Several years later my parents found a used piano for $100. I started taking lessons maybe when I was eight or nine.
    My father had a portable manual typewriter which he used some. I wanted so much to play on it. However, I guess he was afraid that I would break it or something.
    In 1963 or 1964, the World's Fair came to Queens, NYC, where we lived. IBM had an exhibit where among other things, they introduced the Selectric. They let you type to your heart's content and switch the balls with the letters on them as much as you wanted. I made such a fuss that my father promised to get me a Selectric if I got all A's in my last year of high school. He later added that he would do the same if I was accepted to an Ivy League college.
    I do touch type. I learned not on a typewriter but on a teletype machine. The first real job I got was using a teletype on Wall Street. The machines were all linked up to a large computer somewhere in the building. They were used both for data entry and sending messages to other branches of the company around the country. Everything was urgent, so speed was of the essence. I still remember typing "wkg wl adv" for Working Will Advise.
    After a year at that job, I left for almost double the pay at the United Nations. A year there on a teletype machine and then another year in the Office Machine Repair Unit. Hundreds and hundreds of typewriters. When I left there, one of the technicians gave me a used IBM typewriter (not a Selectric). I used that machine for personal stuff for many years.
    I have a laptop now. Not really good for touch typing but I love it anyhow. I have three pianos which I still play now and again.

    ReplyDelete
  35. EVEYBODY had to take typing in 8th or 9th grade. We had a sheet of paper over the keyboard so we couldn't see the keys, and 1 blank key typewriter. Usually the "cheater" was seated at the blank one. I never was....us "advanced" typists got moved to the electric room, so I wasn't using the manual machine very long. We got to type real letter for the teacher, class handouts, make mimeographs, and go to the office on errands, which was super keen LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  36. My husband could type before he joined the army. Still wound up in Vietnam. Afterwards I got stuck doing his college typing since two fingers on his left hand didn't work too well. I'd sit up half the night typing his papers page by page as he wrote them. He researched like crazy but waited til the last freaking minute to actually write. To make it more hellish his papers were usually in Spanish since he majored in Latin American studies. I didn't know if his spelling was accurate or not, especially when it would change in the middle of the paper. It amazes me that I didn't murder him.

    ReplyDelete
  37. When I was around 8th or 9th grade, my grandparents passed on an ancient typewriter they had. I loved that thing. My mom (I was still homeschooled at the time) had me start studying typing. Honestly, I never could figure out touch typing. I had to look at the paragraph I was supposed to be typing and then at the keys. I just had to have the keys in my eyes, and then I could type quickly. I didn't have to actually be finding each key with my eyes before I typed. Make sense? I'm actually the same way with music. I can't memorize it to save my life, but I'm hardly really seeing the notes when I play. (Or at least I was that way when I was regularly playing piano.)

    Somewhere along the way, I did become a touch typist. Now, I don't even need to think about it, and my fingers are flying. I'm the king of typos, but it is natural now. I agree with Jenn, why wasn't it in alphabetical order to begin with? But the idea of them switching it at this point really scares me.

    And that knowledge seems to extend to my phone, too. I use my thumbs, but I'm pretty fast there as well, just with more typos since the "keys" are so close together.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Interesting topic. My handwriting was always beyond bad -- so much so that by about fifth grade my teachers asked if I might consider beginning to type my papers, so they could actually read them. So around 6th grade, my 11-years-older sister gave me a typewriter with the only stipulation being that I learn to touch type. She taught me the basics and I just worked on it from there. Now, like many others, my brain only seems able to compose if I'm typing, Even for handwritten thank you notes (the gold standard of fundraising) I compose them on the computer first, then copy them into the card.

    But I have to admit, I'm a bit disappointed. I was REALLY hoping someone was going to offer some insight into how to learn to thumb type on phone keyboards. I am really sick of one finger typing on it, but can't seem to get past feeling ridiculous and incompetent when attempting thumb typing. Any others out there of my generation (Baby Boomer) who have mastered it?

    ReplyDelete
  39. I fell in love with the first typewriter I ever saw, and my father arranged for me to take typing in summer school as soon as I was eligible, the summer before 9th grade. "It'll be good for her papers in high school." He bought me a small portable manual typewriter, and had me practice by typing up his stories*. Our classroom typewriters had letters, but we were not allowed to look, and I managed to be only an average typist, good enough for my own work and for employment when teaching jobs were scarce.
    Computers have made it all so much easier.
    * https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/category/stories/daddy-john-stories/

    ReplyDelete
  40. I learned touch typing on a manual typewriter with blacked out keys. To this day, I am physically incapable of not typing two spaces after a period!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Learned how to type in junior high school--thank goodness. And wow, were those rooms loud, with all the keys pounding and the "ding" that announce that it was time to shove the thing back so you could type the next line. So grateful now because I don't have to look at my hands. (But kids these days learn to type in elementary school now because: computers. That's amazing to me.)

    ReplyDelete
  42. One of the best things that my mother insisted on me doing that I didn't want to do was to take typing in high school. She had the foresight to know that I would need to be typing papers in college. And, she went one better than that when she convinced me to take typing again in college. There were newer machines, and it helped to get trained on them in a class. I'm now a pretty fast typist, since I don't have to look at the keys. It's actually worse if I try to look at the keys. That's when I mess up.

    I was trying to remember if I learned on a manual or electric, and I really think it was a manual I learned on, then went on to electric. One thing I hated about typing was using carbon paper. That was a frustration I could have lived without. Oh, and there were the word processors before computers. I think those were in my early thirties? When computers came along, I had a real advantage in already knowing key placement. I may not be able to text with my thumbs at lightning speed, but I'll take on some of those whippersnappers on the keyboard to the computer.

    Something that was of interest to me lately involved a typewriter. My son's girlfriend bought an older typewriter (not sure how old) and fixed it up for him and presented it to him as a gift. He was smitten at first sight. He's writing a book, and now he wants to write it on a typewriter. He always was a romantic.

    Tom Hanks is one of my favorite actors, and he became even more of a favorite when I found out about his love of typwriters. I've yet to read his book, Uncommon Type: Some Stories, but I will. It's a book of short stories and there's a typewriter slipped into each one. Hanks has over a hundred typewriters in his collection. I don't know what the numbers are for manual, portable, electric. Here are a couple of Youtubes dealing with Tom Hanks' typewriter obsession. The first he talks about it and the second he shows you how to change a typewriter ribbon. Remember those? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTtDb73NkNM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBbsNKaVAB0

    ReplyDelete
  43. I had one typing course in high school. Since I looked at the keys, I and some others were stuck typing "the quick brown fox, etc" most of the time. Bottom line: I still look at the keys sometimes but missed learning how to do more advanced things.

    On my phone I use my middle fingers most of the time. I can't use my thumbs.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Have you guys seen the QwerkyWriter keyboard? It's on my wish list! https://www.qwerkywriter.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjw8_nXBRAiEiwAXWe2ydY3YpENr7MUJM4iAKpoN8-lXmsi7MWFCqeF3E5JrFELgi1pkxnh4xoC2pYQAvD_BwE

    ReplyDelete
  45. I worked in utilization review, which was a medical job in an office setting. A memory that delights me is of a surgeon in our group, who was so proud of his typing skills. He was in his early 70's and had taken typing in Home Ec, back in the day, in South Carolina. All of the other doctors laboriously hunted and pecked and made copious errors (the older generation, at least), while this gent breezed through, bragging all the while--he was a surgeon, after all.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Late coming to the ball, here. I took typing class in high school--but I was already a touch typist. For some reason completely obscure to me now, I decided to teach myself to type in grade school. I used a manual typewriter and an typing course that my mother had in the house. Every day after school I came home and practiced for about twenty minutes. It worked and Iv'e always been a really fast, accurate typist. If only I had decided to learn Spanish like that! It's really true that learning things when you're young is easier.

    ReplyDelete