For whatever moronic reason, we’re quite pleased with ourselves about our touch typing abilities. When fully on it, we blast along at 90 words per minute (wpm). Oh yeah. Aren’t we amazing?
But, really, that’s not overly impressive compared to outright experts.
And considering it’s our day jobs as copywriters, you’d sort of expect something above 50 wpm. So off we climb from our high horse to take a closer look at this muscle memory world of finger tapping.
Typing is, basically, the equivalent of tap dancing for your fingers.
For most of us in the west, it’s also a common practice. But one that most folks will be pretty rubbish at – staring away at the keyboard as your index fingers lash at barbarically at poor defencless keys.
Touch typing makes it all a tad more glamorous. It’s the, from memory, ability to kind keyboard keys at speed without looking.
The very best typists use all available fingers. For us, we usually find our index fingers do most of the available work – but our thumbs and little fingers also chip in a bit. Here’s a demonstration from an expert.
The interesting thing here is there isn’t too much of a difference in typing speeds between the two.
Someone staring at their keyboard can easily blast along at 100 wpm with no problems, easily matching a touch typist.
But! They won’t spot any mistakes they make as they go along. And that’s the difference, as a touch typer will make adjustments as they go along.
Now, you’re in a role such as digital marketing or journalism then, yeah, it’s a great skill to have up your sleeve.
If you’re a blogger or novelist then it’s far from essential. But it’s a nifty little trick to have up your sleeve all the same.
For instance, it takes us about 20 minutes to write one of our silly posts. Some may even take as little as 10 minutes (we know, we’re that awesome).
If we couldn’t touch type, it might take 30-40 minutes.
But, really, this isn’t us getting an ego on about something as stupid as typing. It’s merely a lifehack.
And you can use plenty of free services online to improve your skills – five minutes practice everyday and you’d be a pro in a month!
Ultimate Typing Championship!
Of course, whenever there’s something nerdy like this, there’s an equally nerdy event. The official site (clearly not updated in a while) states:
"Think you can type? Now's your chance to jump in the ring — err, take a seat at your keyboard — and go head-to-head with the fastest typists around. Put your fierce typing skills to the test for a chance to win $2,000 and be crowned the first-ever Ultimate Typing Champion."
Sean Wrona won the title back in 2010. As you can see in the video below, he can type at an eye watering 163 wpm.
Unfortunately, the whole event seems to have come to an end. The last one was in 2010, as far as our research took us. Boo!
The World’s Fastest Typist
Finally, we did go on to find out that the fastest English language typist ever recorded was a lady called Stella Pajunas. In 1946, reports confirm she blasted along at a stunning 216 wpm.
On a Dvorak simplified keyboard, Barabra Blackburn was able to hit 212 wpm in 2005 (she passed away in 2008). She was renowned before that, as you can see above – Apple hired her to show off their fancy product in 1984.
Of course, typing was often a woman’s job back in the day. This led to various international typing championships throughout Blackburn’s era.
But it was a lady called Lenore Fenton who went on to dominate that.
For example, in June of 1946 she won the world championship using one of August Dvorak’s (1894-1975 – not the musician, he was a educational psychologist and inventor) keyboards typing at 131 wpm.
But she could get up to 181 wpm as well.
We couldn’t find a singular clip of her typing, but if you skip to the 2:20 mark in the above video, you can see Lenore going utterly balistic.
When she died aged 92 in 2005, her Dvorak keyboard went up in the National Museum of American History.
This typing lark packs a lot of respect behind it.