Friday, June 10, 2011

The Stockton Typing Experiment

In 3rd or 4th grade (maybe 1955-1956) the school decided we would learn to type. It may have been to prepare us for careers in office work or maybe a prescient, but premature, nod to the coming computer revolution, or it might have been just a reaction to my (and other's) occasional mediocre grades in handwriting.

Once or twice a week we'd troop down to a storage room, pull out a very heavy, "portable" typewriter, and carry/drag it back to the classroom for a typing lesson. It may have secretly doubled as part of the phys-ed program. There were three brands, Remington, Royal, and Smith-Corona and if you were lucky you grabbed a lighter brand. We each quickly became loyal to a particular brand (my mother was a typist and we had a Smith-Corona at home, so I already had my mind made up) and the students debated the relative merits of the brands as if we were talking about Yankees vs Dodgers vs Giants.

Many of us had hands that were too small or fingers too weak to do much typing, but we did learn the qwerty arrangement. I'm not sure, but I think the typing experiment was short-lived.

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