writing was invented, man has always looked at what he was
writing. Whether he was chiselling a stone or inscribing a
clay tablet or using a quill pen on a piece of paper, man
has always looked at what he was writing.
This continued even with the advent of the mechanical typewriter
in the second half of the 19th century. Although the typewriter
required the typist to look at the keys to find the right
key to tap, very soon a method was invented to tap the keys
without looking at the keyboard. This method is known as “touch-typing”
or key by touch. More recently, the term touch keyboarding
has started to find increased acceptance as it describes more
accurately how people use the computer.
of the typewriter in this fashion required mastering the touch-typing
skill and this skill, together with short-hand writing, became
the core competency of “secretaries”, from the time the typewriter
was invented until the Personal Computer appeared, a century
The advent of the Personal Computer in the early 80’s changed
this modus operandi. All of a sudden, millions of Personal
Computers ended up on the desks of people not trained to use
the keyboard properly, that is, to key by touch. They, of
course, did the only thing they could do and used the keyboard
by looking at the keys.
The task of memorizing the keyboard layout and learning to
touch-type was made difficult by the odd QWERTY layout, inherited
from the old typewriter, and by the fact that the keyboard
had twice as many keys as the typewriter. Some years later,
learning to touch-type became even more difficult as the advent
of the graphical user interface and the mouse required the
hand to move away from the keyboard very frequently thus forcing
the typist to reposition the hand many more times than before.
For a more comprehensive discussion on this subject click
As a result of all this, the great majority of computer users
cannot touch type. The consequence of this are huge both on
productivity and, some believe, also on the health of computer
users. The section focuses on some of these issues.