I recently discovered the existence of the Ultimate Typing Championship. Seriously. Conduct a search on Google if you too are struck by the same disbelief I was. The clatter of keys must be a roar! The RSI requiring months of tedious rehabilitation!
In the past, I too have (albeit a very limited) experiences of competitive typing. These moments of glory can be reduced to three instances. Ahead of these, though, an honourable mention for my first keyboard, which I sadly lost interest in.
Rest well, my musical friend. Your notes have faded, but are not forgotten.
My first encounter was in the days of Windows 95, when I invested in a CD-ROM software package that promised to teach and improve touch-typing. Previous affairs with QWERTY had been strictly limited, primarily to a word-processing unit (which seemed mystical in its ability to store files on a 1.44Mb floppy disc, and automatically print off whole documents by just selecting an option on a LCD menu bar). Those were the days of the Oxford dictionary, dial-up was in its infantry, and mobile phone technology brick-like, clunky, practically a weapon.
Only a mild exaggeration….
Secondly, as a child, my grandmother would mindfully supervise my experiments with her father’s Underwood typewriter. I was fascinated with each mechanical element, the nicotine-stained keypads (for those were the times when it was both fashionable and healthy to smoke), its worn, black case and, most importantly, the satisfying bell that struck at the end of each line. ‘He was the editor for a prestigious London fashion magazine’, I was told, and, although I have never paid serious attention to trends and cuts of cloth, part of me has always been curious to read something by his hand.
Finally, and I’m not sure whether anyone else can relate to this, but employment agencies. The moment one steps into their office your fate lies in the balance. It can (or at least used to) make words-per-minute tests as nail-biting an experience as school exams! Yes, they know that everyone can type these days. And they agree that we all have at least some experience with word processing software. But still, we sit, punching text into our keyboards in their offices, hoping beyond hope that we get a high enough score to be ‘considered’. Considered for what? I guess all the jobs out there that require excellent and error-proof touch typing above all the other achievements on a CV. I fear this recruitment hoop-to-hurl-through is a remnant of the days of typing pools, nicotine-stained keyboard keys, and when it was still fashionable and healthy to smoke.