[TUHS] Early Unix and Keyboard Skills

scj at yaccman.com scj at yaccman.com
Sun Aug 6 09:53:44 AEST 2023

I took typing in Summer School.  My parents bought me a typewriter with
mathematical symbols on it, which was almost worthless, and I had to
improvise to get some of the standard characters (for example, the
semicolon was comma/backspace/colon).  By the time I was talking to
computers ( Model 33 tty) I was happy that I couldn't type faster
because it was impossible on that thing. 



On 2022-11-02 00:11, Rob Pike wrote:

> Neither ken nor dmr were impressive typists. In fact few programmers were then, at least of my acquaintance. 
> In the 1970s Bell Labs created the Getset - think of it as an early wired smartphone, or a Minitel, with a little screen and keyboard. It cost quite a bit but was a cool gadget so the executives all got one. But, in fascinating contrast to the Blackberry a generation later, no one would touch it - literally - because it had a keyboard, and keyboards were for (female) secretaries, not (male) executives. The product, although well ahead of its time, was a complete failure due to the cultural bias then. 
> There may be a good sociology paper in there somewhere. 
> I'm not saying K&D shared this blinkered view, not at all, just that typing skills were not de facto back then. Some of the folks were even two-finger jabbers. I was a little younger and a faster typist than most of the others, and I am not a good typist by any modern standard. 
> bwk was one who could smash out the text faster than many. His having learned on a teletype, the keyboard would resound with the impact of his forceful keystrokes. 
> -rob 
> On Wed, Nov 2, 2022 at 5:53 PM Michael Kjörling <e5655f30a07f at ewoof.net> wrote: 
>> On 2 Nov 2022 13:36 +1100, from sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au (steve jenkin):
>>> There's at least one Internet meme that highly productive coders
>>> necessarily have good keyboard skills, which leads to also producing
>>> documentation or, at least, not avoiding it entirely, as often
>>> happens commercially.
>> I wouldn't be so sure that this necessarily follows. Good keyboard
>> skills definitely help with the mechanics of typing code as well as
>> text, I'll certainly grant that; but someone can be a good typist yet
>> write complete gibberish, or be a poor/slow typist and _by necessity_
>> need to consider each word that they use because typing an extra
>> sentence takes them so long. If it takes you ten seconds to type out a
>> normal sentence, revising becomes less of an issue than if typing out
>> the same sentence takes a minute or a minute and a half.
>> Also, certainly in my case and I doubt that I'm alone, a lot of my
>> time "coding" isn't spent doing the mechanics of "writing code", but
>> rather considering possible solutions to a problem, and what the
>> consequences would be of different choices. That part of the software
>> development process is essentially unaffected by how good one is as a
>> typist, and I expect that the effect would be even more pronounced for
>> someone using something like an ASR-33 and edlin, than a modern
>> computer and visual editor. Again, the longer it takes to revise
>> something, the more it makes sense to get it right on the first
>> attempt, even if that means some preparatory work up-front.
>> Writing documentation is probably more an issue of mindset and being
>> allowed the time, than it is a question of how good one is as a
>> typist.
>> -- 
>> 🪶 Michael Kjörling                  🏡 https://michael.kjorling.se
>> "Remember when, on the Internet, nobody cared that you were a dog?"
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