My first typewriter was a monster of a machine. It was a bulky contraption that needed great physical strength to operate it, but provided an all-body workout that modern technology sadly can’t match.
Just carrying the damn thing required brute strength, unwavering concentration and fine-tuned reflexes; if accidentally dropped, it could cause grievous bodily harm and potential loss of toes.
During my last year of high school, I attended a weekly secretarial course where I learnt to touch type.
We spent countless hours typing all the keyboard letters on A4 paper:
And so on.
These repetitive exercises not only developed flexibility and dexterity in each finger, but also imprinted the QWERTY keyboard pattern deep into my cellular memory (which explains why I’m still challenged by phone texting).
We gradually progressed to words, then sentences, paragraphs and full page letters. We were routinely tested at each stage for speed and accuracy.
That’s how I became a 10-finger typist by the time I finished high school.
I was probably the only college student at the time who could type my essays using more than two fingers, with minimal errors or paper wastage. I probably still am.
It was a great leap forward when I upgraded that vintage typewriter (remarkably similar to the above photo) for a portable version a few years later. It ranks second in my top five typist highlights:
Top 5 highlights for typists
1. Liquid Paper (white out / correction fluid) strips which eliminated liquid mess and drying time. They were a precursor to correction tape.
2. Portable typewriter which fit into a small carry case for easier transportation. They still required paper, ink ribbon and Liquid Paper strips.
3. Electric typewriter which featured a pivoting type ball with built-in correction capabilities.
4. Word processors and floppy discs. I was excited about using a computer in my first job as a newspaper journalist.
5. Laptops, iPhones and iPads. Okay, now I just can’t keep up.
However, touch typing has continued to be an invaluable skill throughout this phenomenal transformation from typewriters to laptops.
As at 19 December 2007 a word processing assessment revealed my typing speed was 67 words per minute, with 99 percent accuracy.
Sadly, I’m not able to maintain that standard while attempting to text on my mobile phone.
My outdoor office
I bought my first laptop in 2006 and took it with me while travelling around New Zealand in 2008.
For the cost of a cappuccino, I could access Wi-Fi, check my emails, update my travel blog and chat on Skype with friends in Australia. I’d tell people I was working from my outdoor office.
When I left Sydney in early 2009, I was able to work remotely as I drove up the eastern coast of Australia, stopping off to visit friends along the way. All I needed was my laptop, phone, mobile internet access and an outdoor café table. I was no longer chained to a desktop computer or an indoor office.
I just love the flexibility of working my own hours from home and particularly enjoy the absence of office politics.
Plug me in, Scottie!
Do you ever get an idea at 2am when you’re trying to sleep, only to find that you don’t remember it the next morning?
I often toss and turn until I finally switch on the light and write my thoughts down in a notebook; this usually happens several times during the night.
My mind is also hyperactive while I’m brushing my teeth, washing the dishes, driving on the motorway or walking along the beach. This is how I usually come up with an outline for a Toastmasters speech or a theme for my next blog, but don’t always have the opportunity to write these down straight away.
For some reason, I haven’t been able to embrace the concept of talking into a portable recorder.
Wouldn’t it be great, though, if I could plug an SD card or USB cable from my brain into my laptop and download my mental conversations and images? It would bypass the writing process altogether.
It wouldn’t matter if I was hanging out the laundry, cooking dinner or lying in bed awake at 2am, as my thoughts would be automatically transcribed, ready for editing.
Now there’s an idea!
Did you learn to touch type or are you a two-finger typist?
New Zealand 2008
New Zealand 2006
United Kingdom 2004
Athens Olympics 2004
Beijing to Athens 1994
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS