Way back when I was a schoolgirl, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, not too many people typed. Now everyone types, so being a “typist” is nothing special.
But it didn’t always used to be that way.
I can remember vividly my first day in typing class, in high school. I had a teacher called Mrs. Doliber. She was ancient then. My mother had her for a business class teacher back when SHE went to the same high school. That’s the way it was in our town. Your parents had all the same teachers you had. Or else they went to school with your teachers.
Anyway, I can remember exactly where I sat in typing class. As usual, way in the back row. I always picked the back row (when I had the opportunity to choose where to sit) because I was very shy and didn’t want to stick out. I didn’t want anyone to call on my, either. So I “hid” in the back row.
We had those ancient typewriters, like you see now in museums – the black clunky kind, manual typewriters, with white keys. Each depression of a letter or number was quite an effort – and by the end of class, my fingers ached with all the exercise they were getting. You developed finger muscles in those days.
I still have good finger muscles, but they are a different type of muscle. They don’t so much exert brute force onto the keys now, but they do go very fast over them but with a much lighter touch than they did back in the stone-age. Back then, you really had to punch those suckers down hard to get a letter or number of print on the paper.
There was no such thing (yet) as correct-a-tape, let alone white-out. If we made a mistake, we had to take out the page and erase it to the best of our abilities. I got good at erasing things very neatly and cleanly. Later, when I got more into typing specific things, we always used carbon paper to make copies. There was no such thing as a copy machine back then. You made copies by inserting carbon paper in front of however many pieces of paper you wanted for copies. Sometimes if 10 copies were needed, the ones way in the back were quite blurred.
And if you made a mistake on multiple copy typing, oh my, it took FOR-EVER to erase every single copy… and of course, as you can imagine, erasing a carbon copy was definitely messy! I always went home with black fingers and hands, and even black smudges on my blouses.
I remember the first day in typing class like it was yesterday, too. Mrs. Doliber stood up there at the front of the class and told all of us non-believers that, whether or not we knew it now, some day our fingers would be flying over those keys! Little did she know what was to come in the future. Fingers flying over the keys of an old manual typewriter was quite a different story than it is today.
A lot different.
Of course, when you came to the end of a row of typing, you had to manually shift it up a row with your left hand. That meant you were always taking your left hand up off the “home row” of keys and having to hunt them up again. And, one of the most important things to know was just WHERE to end the row of words. You had to know how to hyphenate words back in those days. Because you wanted to squeeze every possible word onto a line, and if there were only room for four characters left, and you had an 8-character word, well — you’d better look it up (or know it in your head) as to where the hyphen went.
So that’s how I learned how to type. The old fashioned way. Without looking at the keys. I am amazed at the people today who type with two fingers, looking down at the keys the whole time. They do an incredible job getting so many words, lines, pages of manuscript typed up that way. I often wonder if anyone learns touch typing anymore. I’ve been out of school for so long, that I just don’t know.
I do love the way a computer makes life for a typist so much easier. I can remember the first time I discovered “word-wrap” at the ends of sentences. Oh what a joy! Not to have to decide where to break up a word anymore.
I have no idea how I got onto this subject. Typing is usually up in the front of my brain, most days, though. Since that’s all I do most every day. Type. Type. Type. And type some more.
I’m sitting here, at 8:35 in the evening, still typing. I began typing here in this very same spot at 7 this morning and here it is 13.5 hours later, and I’m still at it. Oh, I did take a few breaks, in fact, a few long breaks – to go to the office, and to prepare dinner, etc.
I guess I’ll just be typing til I’m in my grave. I can’t imagine living without typing. It’s like breathing in and breathing out to me.