Saturday, June 28, 2014

An essay on The Joy of Typing


I don’t like most modern computer keyboards. My career at IBM using their excellent keyboards with the superb “buckling spring” technology has made every other type of keyboard seem inferior to me. There is that immensely satisfying “Click” every time you successfully make a keystroke, you just can’t beat it.

During the mid-1990s I switched to a Lexmark keyboard, not as massive as the weighty IBM ones, also having the buckling spring mechanism, with the added advantage of taking up less desktop space. This Lexmark gathered much gunk between/under the keys, so a few months ago I pulled off the removable keytops and gave it a thorough cleaning.

Trouble was, I couldn’t ever get the space bar to work properly after that. Now it randomly generates extra spaces between words causing me much frustration and time wasted remove the surplus spaces.

I explored the purchase of a brand new Unicomp keyboard from the USA. I’m sure their keyboards are excellent to use, with the slight advantage of having a “Windows” key which neither the old IBM or Lexmark keyboards did (they were designed well before Windows 95 appeared). They cost from USD $79.00 upwards, however the freight across the Pacific to Australia was going to double the price, so I passed on this option.

So now I’m back using an original IBM “Model M” keyboard again, and must say that it does seem to have a subtly better tactile feel than the Lexmark. So I’m a happy typist again (in keyboard terms, that is).

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The IBM Model M keyboard

Interestingly, and in a completely different vein, the other day I came across The Joy of Typing by Clive Thompson, wit the subtitle “How racing along at 60 words a minute can unlock your mind.”

He starts of by posing the question: “How racing along at 60 words a minute can unlock your mind.” A study had reported that college students who typed lecture notes remembered less than those who wrote them down by hand.

So, should we stop typing in favour of handwriting (where possible)? Go read Clive Thompson’s article and draw your own conclusions.

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