A study of keying skills and various alphanumeric keyboards
The desire to make a permanent record of one's thoughts and conversation has existed for many centuries. The-development of writing instruments was a slow process. It took over 4000 years for the quill pen to replace the reed pen (Mussin, 1980), and it was not until 1785 that the pencil was invented. In 1884,the fountain pen was introduced, which was followed by the more recent development of the ball-point pen('biro') towards the end of the second World War (1944). One of the reasons for the continuing production of writing implements was the requirement for speed. The need to go faster has always been fundamental to Man's existence. For example, as long ago as 63 BC Marcus Tullius Tiro invented a system of shorthand in order to ensure he had a complete record of Cicero's orations. Since then over a thousand systems of shorthand have been devised for the English language alone. This method of abbreviating words provides one approach for speeding up the 'speech-to-text' process. An alternative is to use a keying device. The development of keying devices was similar to the invention of writing instruments, in that initial production was slow, but the number and versatility of devices rapidly increased as their potential was realised. The first 'writing machine' is thought to have been invented in 1714 (Richards, 1964), and during the nineteenth century many typewriters were manufactured. As a result the number of keying devices produced has steadily increased throughout the last 100 years. This trend has continued, during the last two decades and it is hypothesised that many more keyboards will emerge during the 1980's as technology becomes more sophisticated.