“The Home Row,” “ASDF,” timed typing, and words per minute were the standard terms heard in any late 1980s and 1990s keyboarding class. But there was one computer program we all heard of, and probably used, when learning to be future Retroist writers. That computer program was Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Did Mavis teach you?
When I was in seventh grade, I was introduced to the concept of “keyboarding” class. No seriously, that’s what my middle school called it. Prior to that, in my intermediate school (third through sixth grades), it was Computer Science. In that class, we played games and learned how to use a computer. In seventh grade, we got down to the business of actually knowing how to use a computer for more professional reasons, rather than playing games.
Keyboarding class meant typing exercises, learning how to position hands on the keyboard correctly, and timed typing to judge proficiency and accuracy. I owe much to my first keyboard classes, as well as the one I took in tenth grade that expanded more on the basics taught in those earlier classes.
Last time I tested myself, which was more than a decade ago, I typed 65 words per minute accurately. If I really floor it through typing, I can hit 70 words per minute. I don’t use the applied methods of proper keyboarding taught in classes at school, and I haven’t in years. To me, it is too restrictive, and as a Secretary who doesn’t act the “Traditional Secretary Way,” I find my way to be much easier than holding my hands on the “Home Row” ever did.
There were teachers that were employed to teach this method, and then there was the “video game/learning tool” version. Her name was Mavis Beacon, and her aim was to teach you typing!
Meet Mavis Beacon!
Truth is, there isn’t an actual Mavis Beacon.
Ms. Beacon is actually Caribbean-born Renee L’Esperance. Mavis (named for Mavis Staples) Beacon (a light to guide the way) was the creation of former talk show host Les Crane, who was a partner in Software Works, and L’Esperance was the physical representation of Mavis. She was a perfume counter worker at Saks when she was discovered.
She’s gotten a new face over time…
…but her aim has always been the same: teach you to type through lessons and games aimed at making this (like any type of learning) fun!
Her look has only changed to represent a modern typing instructor.
Although she never looked like the people who taught keyboarding or typing at my schools.
Playing the First Version of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
When it comes to giving the software a test drive, I knew I wanted to try out the original version. It was the O.G., and twenty versions later, it is still the best-selling instructional typing software of all time.
And thanks to Classic Reload, the original DOS version from 1987 is a playable reality!
And don’t judge me on my typing – as a freestyle typist, I’m excellent, but under Mavis Beacon’s watchful eye…I’m the worst typist ever!
Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words
Give Your Typing Skills the Ol’ Mavis Beacon Try!
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (In case you’re up for the challenge!)
She can be found at allisonveneziowrites.com.You can follow her blog on Facebook (facebook.com/allisonswrittenwords), Instagram @allisonswrittenwords, and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
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