As a youth growing up, schools offered what was called a typing class, where you learned how to type on a typewriter. OK, if you don’t know what a typewriter is (because it’s obsolete now), ask your parents or grandparents.

If you knew how to type, you needed that typewriter as well as paper to insert, to see the fruits of your work.

Five-finger typing

In more recent eras, kids who wanted to type took keyboarding classes, to master the art of typing, not on a typewriter but on a computer keyboard. With keyboarding, of course, there’s no paper and the result of your input is displayed on the computer screen.

Typewriters were replaced by computers over the decades.

But there are precise memories of learning typing the old way.

If you took typing lessons, you surely remember the ubiquitous  sentence you had to master on your typewriter.  Over and over.

That sentence was The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, an English-language pangram—a sentence that contains all of the letters of the English alphabet.

Typewriter keyboard

If you could repeatedly type that, at a speed of, say 65 words per minute, you’d be somewhat of a master. Without making a typo(mistake).

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

It was redundant, but necessary, to take ownership and conquer the keyboard.

A vintage typewriter

And reflecting on the typewriter: if you made an error, you could erase it with a circular eraser attached with a brush; you needed a inked fabric ribbon to “print” your texts; if you had a deluxe ribbon, you could type in black and red ink; you had to return your carriage, to progress from one line to the next.

If you didn’t learn the five-finger way to type, you probably do the one finger-two hand hunt and peck system.

What memories, good or bad, do you have about the trysts of

typing? …


  1. I took typing class during summer school at Aiea High in summer of ’69. Really loved it! I think I was able to type 65 wpm – probably because of my agility as a piano player. Typing teacher was Mrs. Daisy…..(forgot her last name), but she was well loved by everybody!

  2. That’s a good question Wayne. I learned typing at Kaiser High School. It was considered a technical class for those not going to college, which is kind of weird as anyone who goes to college knows it’s all about the papers. Anyway, my memory is typing flitj flitj over and over. I type so much for my job now that I can’t think unless my fingers hover over letters. I have to say for an inaccurate typist like myself, a computer keyboard is the best, that backspace delete is my savior.

  3. I learned on a manual typewriter in middle school, destined to work on the school paper at Kawananakoa. By the time I was at Farrington, I was an ace at the keyboard — a necessity since I was editor of my high school paper. By the time I was at Ka Leo at UH, I was ready for the real world newspaper and at the Advertiser, went through the ritual of manual typewriter, then IBM Selectric, then early and finally modern Apple computers. I remember backspacers, then copy pencils to scribble out typos, then IBM codes to correct typos, and got to appreciate spell check on the Macs. Such a history of inputting type; and with Apple, you gotta watch local words and terms, cuz the spell check is both helpful and frustrating, especially when you press send, and you see a Hawaiian word incorrectly fixed.

  4. In my senior year of high school, I transferred from private school to public and driver’s training was a requirement for graduation. So, I (drove!) to my driver’s education class for one semester and the ONLY class open for the second semester was typing. I wasn’t too happy. However, as it turned out, it was the best class I could have taken as I finally learned the proper method and chucked the “hunt and peck” system forever. I consider myself “lucky” I was forced into that class. Long after more modern typewriters were available, I continued to use a wonderful, portable, Olivetti!

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