Feeling old, typing edition

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Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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39 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    says:

    Well, I know it as touch typing, and I took it in, hmm, either 8th or 9th grade, and yes, it was extremely valuable to me as a programmer. Eventually, but not right away. There isn’t a great need to touch type on a IBM 026 card punch machine, you see.

    So really, I think I’m not making you feel any younger. At least, I wasn’t trying to…Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    At least we still dial numbers on our cellphones.Report

  3. Avatar Reformed Republican
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    says:

    I am mid-thirties. I learned it as touch-typing when I was in high school. We did not have special keyboards; we had paper that was taped to the keyboard along one edge, and it covered our hands and the keys.Report

  4. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    says:

    Ask her which finger is used for the carriage return.Report

  5. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    I didn’t learn it as “touch-typing”, I just learned it as “typing”.Report

  6. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    You see Richard, your error was having kids. Kids make you feel old.

    Enjoy 🙂Report

  7. Avatar Troublesome Frog
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    says:

    I’m 35 and remember both “touch typing” and “keyboarding” used as a student. I think the transition started to happen sometime in middle school.

    I’m also the child of a secretary, so I learned to type years before we started doing it in school. My typing speed combined with using vi as my text editor just bewilders some of my colleagues.

    I’m glad I learned to type as young as I did, but I do think that it contributed to my shockingly terrible penmanship. Unless I’m 100% concentrating on writing v e r y s l o w l y, words (or squiggles that are meant to be words) just pour out onto the page and even I have trouble reading them later.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Troublesome Frog
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      says:

      My wife has always said that my handwriting “gives the appearance of great neatness”, but consists entirely of tidy up-and-down squiggles of various heights, with an occasional dot or crossbar added to suggest that there are i’s and t’s in there, and breaks hinting at the possibility of words. We were discussing this again the other day, when the word “aluminum” was on my shopping list. She conceded that it started with something people might recognize as “al”, but that the remainder could be anything, that there was one too few squiggles for it to actually be “uminum”, and that the dot wasn’t particularly close to the squiggle that corresponded to i.Report

  8. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Never heard of keyboarding until this post. I always referred to writing on a computer as typing. I’m in my thirties and never used an actual type-writer in my life.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    I learned touch-typing in summer school after sixth grade. Mom wouldn’t let me use the typewriter until I had taken touch-typing, and finishing sixth grade was a requirement to get into the class. I had been painfully writing fiction out in longhand, and drooling over the thought of typing instead. (I had to take the mandatory eighth-grade typing class from the same instructor a couple of years later — no advance credit given.)

    Years later, during my first couple of years at Bell Labs, management got rid of the typing pool and made the engineers type all of their own documents with the UNIX text-processing tools. I recall watching senior technical staff laboring over a keyboard, hunt-and-peck at a character or two per second. Nothing came of my suggestion to management that the time “lost” putting those staff through a touch-typing class would be more than recovered by them simply writing faster.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    I also learned touch typing in 8th grade. And then let the skill atrophy, so I’ve been hunting and pecking ever since. Which, if anyone asks, I claim has prevented carpal tunnel issues; you can’t get repetitive strain problems from non-repetitive motions.Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    I took touch typing in 9th grade. This would have been 1997. As you said, it was easily one of the most valuable classes I ever took.Report

  12. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    “The math teacher could be my daughter, but only if I had been precocious.”

    Possibly my favorite line written for this site in 2016. Man, that was good.Report

  13. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    says:

    47 and older than dirt, apparently. I never learned typing explicitly in school (my parents perhaps subtly pressuring me into a more “academic” track? They are both scientists). But one of the big, early, clunky PCs my dad brought home came with a learn-to-type program and I did SOME with it. But more often if neatness was needed, I used a typewriter and to this day, for “important” writing (anything bigger than a quiz), I have to compose it longhand on paper and THEN type it. Because of needing to have it as final as possible to avoid errors and having to retype (old habits die hard)

    (I also – perhaps I was a hipster before it was cool? – typed some of my high school essays on the enormous manual Underwood we inherited from my newspaperman granddad)

    I call it “touch typing.” I taught it to myself in grad school on the keyboard of the old IBM I had at the time. Very useful skill to learn. (As was ten-keying, for data entry). I’m a prof now and the days of having secretaries to type your exams (my dad did) have long, long gone away.

    I personally dislike “keyboarding” because it sounds to me like a verbed noun, and verbing weirds nouns.Report

  14. Avatar Slade the Leveller
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    says:

    Touch typer here. I learned to type my junior year in high school on a manual typewriter, the thinking being that having to really hit the keys would foster better skills. I can still remember Bro. Thomas Corcoran yelling out, “Hands on the home keys!”

    Later I went to engineering college and learned to program on a keypunch machine.

    I’m not so old, but I’m feeling quite otherwise as I type this.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Slade the Leveller
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      says:

      Much the same story. Practiced on my father’s Underwood that weighed about 93 pounds when I was a wee lad.

      I was attracted to the aesthetics of the device — the old-fashioned curl of the keys, the gentle sweep of the hammer assembly, the way the entire assembly would bounce up and down with the shift key, the way the spring-loaded carriage would return on its own just so, how the ribbon would go from slack to taut just in time to meet the hammer when it impacted the paper. And the gorgeous clackity-clack noise the thing made when I learned how to really fly the thing. There was some clever and precision machining that went into those devices.

      And the keys only required about ten foot-pounds per keystroke to make a legible impact on the paper.

      So in school when they gave us IBM Selectrics, man, I just flew. All you had to do was think about hitting a key and the letter was there. And while the school didn’t use it (because you could cheat with it) they could hold correction tape!Report

  15. Avatar Aaron David
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    says:

    Typist here, took typing in 8th grade and it was just called typing then. I am 45 for what it is worth. That said, I am kinda an indifferent typist, as I took a lot of hand drafting in high school, thinking I wanted to be an architect and so lettered a lot. And this has also destroyed my handwriting, as I now try to letter everything, and poorly at that due to time and the lack of need for handwriting.

    Funny thing though, my son at 21 is a decent typist also. When he does text (shudder) he texts full words, refuses to LeetSpeak. Not so his friends growing up, whose parents were often 10-20 years older than his mother and I. We brooked no nonsense in things like this.Report

    • Avatar Guy in reply to Aaron David
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      says:

      LeetSpeak, as it were wrote, is to me a tone, and one that I don’t particularly like if I’m texting. Texting needs to be efficient; that means making sure that the person on the end takes you seriously and correctly reads your tone of nominal voice. The only people I know who use things like it are my parents and other relatives, who have trouble typing on a phone and so feel the tradeoff in tonal clarity is worth it. I disagree, but it would be rude for me to tell them so.

      edit: This whole comment came out sounding really weird and I’m not sure why.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Aaron David
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      says:

      Funny thing though, my son at 21 is a decent typist also. When he does text (shudder) he texts full words, refuses to LeetSpeak.

      This is another thing that puts me on the older side of the millennial line that I’m up against. I can’t not punctuate. I have to slow down to abbreviate words. It’s faster and easier for me just to type out the words that are in my head. I also don’t really send text messages.

      The texting thing is weird to me since we started with the telegraph, invented the telephone, made it digital and wireless and portable, and then everybody started to use that final product as a telegraph. It does make sense in that it’s asynchronous/non-blocking like email, which is very efficient. But I see people texting each other in real-time with their focus 100% on texting, which I can’t quite figure out. If you’re not time slicing other tasks in or splitting your attention, what’s the benefit?Report

  16. Avatar LTL FTC
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    says:

    I just want to say that I was crushed when I found out, many years after I used her typing software, that Mavis Beacon is not a real person.*

    *This only makes sense to kids who learned to type in the late ’80s and early ’90s.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to LTL FTC
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      says:

      Aw, shoot. Another piece of my young adulthood gone.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LTL FTC
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      says:

      Oh damnit. Next you’ll be telling me that Farmer John was really two guys named Francis and Bernard, and Johnny Appleseed was a damn drunk.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        John Chapman, a/k/a Johnny Appleseed, was far weirder than merely being a damn drunk. (Actually, I am skeptical of that claim. The point of those apple trees was to make hard cider. This doesn’t make him a drunk, but it would be plenty enough to make later prohibitionists claim he was.) His lifestyle was, umm… idiosyncratic. I particularly like that he was a missionary for the New Church, a/k/a the Swedenborgians. Swedenborg was a Lutheran minister who started having visions. He founded a new church, the New Church, and published many many volumes of his theology.

        The New Church is still around. They are centered in Bryn Athyn, just north of Philadelphia. They have a big-ass gothic cathedral, built using traditional techniques by the same crew that built the National Cathedral. I was driving by one day, knowing nothing of them, and looked out my car window and saw a big-ass gothic cathedral in the Philly suburbs. This was startling. I later took the tour. I commend it, if you are ever in Philly and have an extra half-day. The docents typically are sweet little old church ladies, who don’t try to convert you. There is the bookstore, should you feel moved to buy the complete writings of Swedenborg, which I don’t recommend.Report

  17. Avatar Guy
    Ignored
    says:

    I had trouble with handwriting when I was starting elementary school, so I was given one of these things, on which I hunted and pecked, and a CD containing a touch-typing game, which I never finished. In 5th grade I had a genuine typing class, but didn’t really build much skill. Then at some point in late middle school or early high school I abruptly became aware of the fact that I was touch typing, or something of the sort, and in fact had been for years. I’m still not sure when or how I actually learned to do it, but I do believe those three early things I did were helpful (and yet, no substitute for the internet).Report

  18. Avatar CJColucci
    Ignored
    says:

    I have been a pretty fast hunt-and-peck, two-finger typist for nearly 50 years, in occupations that require me to write a great deal. I probably should have learned to touch-type, but the increased speed didn’t seem to be worth it.
    Then again, in my day they didn’t teach history because there hadn’t been enough yet.Report

  19. Avatar Atomic Geography
    Ignored
    says:

    Richard, a cliché I remember the old folks compulsively saying about us kids right after “if only I had their energy” was “kids keep you young!”. And if you make a slight adjustment in attitude, it has some truth. Parents can learn a lot about the world around us by listening to the kids. Not all of it good by any means, but the young, especially I think one’s own offspring, provide a compelling window to a world that would likely be otherwise incomprehensible. Take it as a gift. Even the mind-numbing stuff, even the stuff that scares you to your core.Report

  20. Avatar Kimmi
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    says:

    Keyboading makes me wince. It’s like surfboarding, except … not cool at all.
    Teach typing, folks!Report

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