Typing is the process of writing or inputting text by pressing keys on a typewriter, keyboard, cell phone, or a calculator. It can be distinguished from other means of text input, such as handwriting and speech recognition. Text can be of the form of letters, numbers and other symbols.
The world’s first typist was Lillian Sholes from Wisconsin. She was the daughter of Christopher Sholes, the man who invented the first practical typewriter.
User interface features such as spell checker and autocomplete serve to facilitate and speed up typing and to prevent or correct errors the typist may make.
In one study of average computer users, the average rate for transcription was 33 words per minute, and 19 words per minute for composition. In the same study, when the group was divided into “fast”, “moderate” and “slow” groups, the average speeds were 40 wpm, 35 wpm, and 23 wpm respectively. An average professional typist reaches 50 to 80 wpm, while some positions can require 80 to 95 wpm (usually the minimum required for dispatch positions and other typing jobs), and some advanced typists work at speeds above 120 wpm. Two-finger typists, sometimes also referred to as “hunt and peck” typists, commonly reach sustained speeds of about 37 wpm for memorized text and 27 wpm when copying text, but in bursts may be able to reach speeds of 60 to 70 wpm. From the 1920s through the 1970s, typing speed (along with shorthand speed) was an important secretarial qualification and typing contests were popular and often publicized by typewriter companies as promotional tools.
The fastest typing speed ever, 216 words per minute, was achieved by Stella Pajunas-Garnand from Chicago in 1946 in one minute on an IBM electric. As of 2005, writer Barbara Blackburn was the fastest English language typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she has maintained 150 wpm for 50 minutes, and 170 wpm for shorter periods. She has been clocked at a peak speed of 212 wpm. Blackburn, who failed her QWERTY typing class in high school, first encountered the Dvorak keyboard in 1938, quickly learned to achieve very high speeds, and occasionally toured giving speed-typing demonstrations during her secretarial career. She appeared on The David Letterman Show and felt that Letterman made a spectacle of her.