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Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:32 PM


Mao-era Chinese typists solved problems that cell phones only came to recently

Chinese typewriters have no keys. Instead, the typist moves a character-selection lever over a tray bed filled with metal character slugs. The typist then presses a type bar, and the lever picks up the character, inks it, types it and returns it to its place. But with upward of 2,500 characters crammed into the tray bed, simply locating the correct one could be a daunting task for early Chinese typists...

From the start, there were predictive aspects to Chinese type. The moveable type racks used in printing presses were organized roughly according to how commonly the characters were used...(but) Chinese typists were only able to manage 20 to 30 characters a minute, versus more than 60 words per minute for American secretaries...

"From the '50s onward, China was in a state of more or less perpetual political campaigns," said Mullaney. "The burden for a lot of this fell on typists." Typists were responsible for reproducing the waves after waves of speeches, pamphlets and other political materials that accompanied massive communist efforts to reshape the country.

In this unique social climate, the announcement that one Zhang Jiying had managed to set more than 50 characters a minute garnered major media attention...The record-setting accomplishment, which Zhang later bettered to nearly 80 characters a minute, was due to his revolutionary character arrangement...

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-chinese-typewriter-text-historian.html#jCp

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Reply Mao-era Chinese typists solved problems that cell phones only came to recently (Original post)
HiPointDem Dec 2012 OP
NoOneMan Dec 2012 #1
Journeyman Dec 2012 #2
Xithras Dec 2012 #3
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2012 #4

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:54 PM

2. Here in the US, the traditional keyboard is intended to slow down the typist. . .

since the swing-arm typebars jammed in the guide when striking the platen. And though the decision to make typing harder was made more than 100 years ago, and is largely irrelevant on modern computer systems, old traditions and methods die hard.

A good typist could see a supposed speed increase of 50% by switching to the Dvorak keyboard, but the time spent learning the new layout, and the isolation the keyboardist would self-impose by knowing a layout few others utilize, makes the effort less than productive.

Dvorak Keyboard

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Response to Journeyman (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 06:03 PM

3. I've known a few people who used Dvorak keyboards.

They really do speed up your typing and reduce carpal tunnel problems. The real problem tends to be that we live in a Qwerty world, and few keyboard jockies have the luxury of typing at only one keyboard all day. Switching back and forth between Qwerty and Dvorak is a nightmare.

Honestly, it's the metric system all over again. We know metric is better, and it makes more sense, but we're so used to our imperial measurements that we have no interest in relearning everything. If we could switch everyone and everything over at once, we'd all whine for a few weeks, get used to it, and then marvel at how we ever survived with the old system. Since there's no way to pull that off, we just muddle on with our inferior keyboards.

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Response to Xithras (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 06:40 PM

4. Dvorak rocks

Most systems can remap keys so there is no need for custom hardware

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