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Monday, 6 October 2014

Order of Accurate Typists

In late October 1915, James Nelson Kimball (1855-1943), for 25 years the organiser of the world speed typing championships, founded the Order of Accurate Typists. For what exact purpose the order was established is not entirely clear, other than to further the cause of the Underwood Typewriter Company.
James Nelson Kimball (1855-1943)
The New York Times, July 23, 1943
Anyway, perhaps the approaching centenary gives us yet another excuse to spread the cause of typewriting in general. First, here is a mock-up of a certificate the reader can print out and fill in her or himself.
Below are sheets of text from the Remington, Royal, Underwood and L.C.Smith & Corona companies which enable typists to test the number of keystrokes they can achieve in any given time. Generally speaking, keystrokes (including use of the spacebar) were divided by five in these tests to give an accurate number of words typed. I have only included here one page of text, the first page of tests from each of the four major US companies - most go up to four pages. And I have many more of the tests in full, issued by these companies on a monthly basis, if anyone is interested in extra texts. Please don't hesitate to ask.
Below is a gauge which can be printed out and used to count keystrokes across an A4 sheet of paper. Copy the image, then turn the image vertically and format it to the correct length (width between the margins on an A4 sheet) when placing it on a Word Doc to print out.
Below are a couple of sample one-minute tests. The first was set in 1922 for "novice class" (first-year) typists, although it goes up to 182 words. For most of us, typing the first five lines (70 words) accurately in one minute would be considered pretty good going. The reader will see that the original owner of this booklet had tested her or himself by pencilling a word count into the margins.
The second test was set for world professional champion George Hossfeld for a typing sprint held at the end of the professional championship event in 1922, which he won over an hour's typing by averaging 144 words a minute. In the celebratory one-minute sprint, he typed 160 words:
Don't be ginger about testing your typing speed
(and awarding yourself a certificate)
Adopt a proper posture
Keep a straight back
Irma Wright
Albert Tangora, standing right, 1926
And don't slouch forward
Try to use at least two fingers!
Don't cross your legs or smoke a pipe
And avoid typing on top of an elephant
Instead, find a good writing surface
(the ones shown below are not recommended)
And don't get distracted
 Even by the cat
Or the boss
Or a camera
 Or by what's going on outside
Even if an A-bomb goes off
Or your typewriter bursts into flames
And in the absence of an exploding typewriter, make sure you have some decent light


Bill M said...

Great post Robert.

Sometimes I think I felt like that fellow in the Norman Rockwell picture. I just wanted to give up and type with one finger.

Then sometimes I wished my typewriter did go up in flames.

Finally I passed and was out of typing class and quite accurate at touch typing.

Richard P said...

Ha! This certainly went in some unexpected directions!