How did you learn to type?

On a typewriter or on a computer? If on a typewriter, what habits do you retain?

I learned on an IBM Selectric back in 11th grade. You had to know whether your type was pica or elite to calculate how many words were on a line. After one too many painful accidents where my left pinky finger got trapped between the keys, I learned to only use the right <shift> key. To this day I use the right one almost exclusively even if it means cocking my hand into an unnatural position to type right-hand caps.

Since I learned on a typewriter I had to unlearn hitting the <enter> key as a <return> key when I switched to the computer. But hey, at least I don’t raise my hand and bat at the return carriage like I would if I learned on a manual. It also took a while to get used to some keys being in different places and the loss of the cent sign, 1/2 and 1/4 keys that my machine had.

How about you Dopers?

I learned in 9th grade on a manual typewriter, reaching a top speed of 90 wpm. I’m very fast on an electric, and a speed demon the computer.

Who says I learned to type? I use the index fingers and thumb approach, also known as the Biblical Method: seek and ye shall find.

I have been able to keep up (in chat mode so I know it’s real time) with legitimate fast typers, though. I even tried to unlearn the earliest methods I “learned” on an old typewriter. But the touchtyping stuff just won’t stick on me.


While in high school I learned on an electric type writer. Back then they had just started pushing “gender neutral” classes and all the boys were required to take either home economics or typing and all the girls had to take shop or something. I chose typing. A lucky choice since I didn’t start developing software until almost a decade later.

This might sound stupid but the first time I extensively used a keyboard was playing Zork back in the day.

I could type “hit troll with sword” like nobody’s business. In high school, my sister took typing and for no reason whatsoever I spent time with her typing book to learn the fundamentals. Which I ignored and forgot.

When I started programming a lot in college and grad school, I could type fast, but not without looking at the keys and using only a couple fingers. Eventually, I forced myself to keep my hands where they should be and type without looking. I’m sure I still make moves that would be funny to a typist, but it works well enough for me.

I took a typing class in college. Yep, I paid for something I could have gotten for free in high school. But I took an awful lot of electives in high school and I just never seemed to have time to fit that one in. I’m fairly fast, but not terribly accurate, so eh. I’m glad we have computers now.

I’m one of those Gosh Darn Kids who, I think, learned how to type sort of around the time I learned how to dial a phone. I figured out pretty quickly that the stories I was writing in first grade could be more easily read by other people if they weren’t written in my first-grade scrawl*. I think I started with the two-fingered hunt-and-peck method, and with the aid of computer class sometime around fourth grade, figured out touch typing.

*Note: my current sophomore-in-college-scrawl is not much of an improvement.

Summer before 9th grade, on an electric, though I was on a manual all through college and halfway throught grad school. (I am, I believe, the last person on the planet to write a doctoral dissertation on a typewriter rather than a computer.)

Didn’t start getting fast till I was in grad school – the combination of long papers and a part-time office job gave me the practice I needed. I think I was around 90 wpm the last time I timed myself.

I learned in high school on an electric, probably an IBM - it was so long ago, I can’t remember exactly what we used. I can also remember getting a finger or two caught between the keys, usually a pinky.

I do remember using sheets of double-spaced papers that we rolled in and copied what was already typed in the space between lines.

When I went away to college, I took my sister’s little portable manual typewriter. My mother taught me to make a little pencil mark near the bottom of the paper so I’d know when I was getting near the end.

We always had a typewriter at home. I learned on a big ol’ Underwood job from the 1940s. Then I took typing in Grade 9. So I do the home row and all of that. It did take some getting used to, having some of the things in different locations. I type without looking, but I also make a lot of typos and use the backspace key A LOT.

My mother made me take typing way back in 9th grade as well. I hated every moment of the class, but it was the best investment of time that I’ve ever spent. I’m an IT guy by trade, and made a few bucks in college typing papers for my fraternity brothers that were useless on a keyboard.

We learned on ancient old manual typewriters, (this was in the olden days of 1984), and by the end of each class, my hands were a wreck! Old, poorly maintained typewriters are murder for little freshman hand muscles.

I also got kicked out of the class for the day, and suspended (in school suspension) for swearing loudly at a classmate that came by and spun my platen when I was about 1/2 way down a page of the manuscript we needed to transcribe as part of the final project for the class. (I think I should have gotten a pass on that one. Errors are VERY hard to fix on a manual typewriter.)

On the manual, I could do about 40 WPM, on a computer, I do about 80WPM. My wife makes me look slow at typing though, I’m sure she’s up over 100WMP without trying. (Paralegal)


I thought most fast women started earlier than that. Live and learn, I reckon.
D & R

I didn’t learn to type until they installed a computer in my office. :eek: I always felt like I had to know how to do all the jobs in the office, since as a supervisor I was responsible for training new employees. So the 'puter forced me to learn how to type.
IMHO, the jury’s still out on whether computers are a good thing or not, but at least now I can type. I type using the index finger of each hand. The pros say I hit the keys too hard, but I can move right along with it.

Smith Corona in high school…parents said I had to have that before a computer.

My dad told me “You have to learn to type without looking at your hands.” So, since I was Daddy’s little girl, I set out to do just that. I’ve never entirely lost the habit of looking at my hands, but I can type faster than a lot of people who have actually learned touch-typing.

I learned on an electric typewriter in high school. Typing was an elective course that was “strongly recommended” for students on the college prep class. By “strongly recommended” the guidance counselors meant you will take typing. Or, as I was counseled, “Do you want to take your typing class in the 10th or 11th grade?” So I learned in the 10th grade. I’m not super fast or anything but I do pretty good I think.

I learned in seventh grade typing class on an ancient Mac. Then I spent that summer on the Internet and got really fast at it. I only use the left shift key, though, for some reason, and I never got very good at typing numbers without looking.

My dad got me a typing book in junior high, but I failed to do much with it, so my parents made me take typing in ninth grade. At least my best friend was taking it too. One of the more useful classes in the long run.

My husband, a software engineer, was recently stunned to learn that he and one other engineer are the only people who can type in the entire (small) company. The office people can’t type. The girl who just finished high school can’t type, and I thought they made you take keyboarding these days. The other engineers can’t type, not even the one with serious eye problems who winds up peering at the keyboard and then up at the screen, so that it takes 3x as long to type anything than it would if he would take the time to learn properly, and he writes code all day. Ridiculous!


etc., etc., etc…

I taught myself at about age 12 (1970) on an ancient black Royal “teaching” typewriter that had totally blank keys - that’s right, no markings on what each key did (except for the number keys for some reason). I found a keyboard layout in an “Book of Knowledge” encyclopedia on typewriters, and figured it out.

A few years later, I took the mandatory typing class in high school (one semester, alternated with PE days), and could reach 80 WPM on a manual, the fastest in class. I got lots of dirty looks (I’m a boy BTW). I was surprised to see the keys actually had letters on them!

I ended up taking three semesters of typing for the easy A’s. The second semester was meant for girls becoming secretaries, and again I easily beat them all. The third semester was spent typing up hand outs for other teachers (ditto sheets, remember those?), programs for the school plays (stencils), letters for the typing teacher who was the athletic director for invitations to the school’s track meets, etc. I should have been paid big bucks for all the work I did, but it was fun.

I’m now a computer programmer, and typing was probably the most useful class I took in high school.

I learned how to type in the fourth grade, on a computer in the school’s computer lab. We had lessons in basic typing. I liked to write stories, so I started using my brother’s typewriter. My family didn’t own a home computer until 1997, and this was about 1989.

We had to take typing again in the eighth grade, as part of a personal computer class, and everyone was amazed that I could type so fast. Most people seemed to have forgotten how in the interim.

I learned on a typewriter between college and graduate school. Incredibly, many of my papers at UC San Diego had been accepted in longhand, and I’m mildly astonished now to think of it.

I became reasonably competent at it, but it wasn’t until I became a programmer that my speed really zoomed, to the point where it’s sometimes faster than my brain’s spelling module, resulting in there/they’re/their type errors.