Lately I’ve been thinking that typing is an old-fashioned word to describe text inputting and that it might instead be more relevant to say that we’re keyboarding. A Wikipedia search this morning on that very word took me instead to ‘typing’, with an indication that I had been redirected from keyboarding. A momentary detour there offered nothing except a forward symbol to ‘typing’. Did this mean I had invented a new verb? Alas, no. An online dictionary offered the definition of keyboarding as ‘to set (text) in type, using a machine that is operated by a keyboard‘.
I was taught to touch-type using a computer keyboard but I practiced at home on a portable typewriter and I quickly realised that different skills were needed for each machine. The flat keyboard made it easier to increase my speed, whilst the stepped layout of the typewriter restricted me to a consistent measured rhythm if I was to avoid jamming keys together. The position of my hands was different too. The typewriter forced me to hold them up, over the keys but the computer keyboard allowed them to rest on the desk. The hammer action of the typewriter keys required effort and strength to strike them against the platten whereas the computer keyboard involved only the lightest touch. (The earliest typists were frequently men, chosen for their physical strength as every key had weights, not springs, attached.) The computer keyboard also didn’t require a lever to return the carriage to the left to begin a new line of text.
In the stone age era of my life, my father acquired a typewriter for my sister to hone her typing skills on. The machine weighed approximately 13 kg and once put in place on a cabinet in our bedroom, was rarely moved again. It was dropped once but the only damage was a small rip in the linoleum and a large dent in the floorboard beneath. The typewriter survived without even a scratch to its glossy black paintwork. I found this website with a clear image and a few paragraphs of information on the Underwood 5 typewriter model, which looks pretty much like the one we had. As I wasn’t privy to the secrets of the Qwerty keyboard and was not considering a career in the world of commerce, I only ever used our Underwood to vent my frustation at the world by bashing furiously at the keys (at times with my palms), and setting new records for the number of keys that could jam together at the same time.
The evolution from noisy, heavy and cumbersome typewriters to silent, small and now even virtual keyboards has happened in my lifetime and I find that truly mind-blowing. Is there anyone left on the planet who doesn’t regularly use a keyboard of some sort these days? There can’t be many and I know that there are youngsters out there who are more adept at keyboarding/typing than they are at using cutlery. My thoughts on that particular fact however, are not for airing today…
i succeeded in living for many years without using a typewriter but I doubt that I could live the rest of my life without a keyboard. Attached to my laptop is a dinky two-thirds size version which remains cool, no matter how hot the laptop becomes. My mobile phone has a virtual keyboard whose multi-choice settings are a fascination in themselves. I have an e-reader with a keyboard. I have a black standard keyboard at the office (which I take with me if I have to move desks – I can live with my germs, I’m just not sure about those of some of my colleagues.) And what’s with black keyboards? If you can’t see the dirt on the keys, it obviously doesn’t exist? Hmmm. Anyway, before I get on my soapbox about my office equipment, I’ll end this rather long-winded post by saying that as much as I have a deep love of all things mechanical, I’d much rather use a keyboard and computer than a 13kg noisy typewriter any day and I suggest that use of ‘type’ and all its related grammatical syntax be discouraged from here on in. From now on, I for one will be keyboarding my blogs but if you catch me typing, will you let me know?