I got my start on computers way back in fourth grade, which would be, um, 27 years ago. I was a hunt-and-peck typist at first, of course.
Fast forward to 1987. I’m still not a touch typist, despite having been using computers to write code, school reports, and the like for six years. This is now my sophomore year of high school, and the year I took typing class in school.
It didn’t do me a bit of good. Several months of typing class, and I still couldn’t type without looking at the keyboard. Sure, I could type with my fingers resting on the home keys, but if I didn’t look at my fingers while I typed, I was beyond useless. All those typing drills and speed drills only taught me how to pretend not to be looking at my fingers while in fact not taking my eyes off them except when the teacher was looking.
I continued to be largely a hunt-and-peck typist — a fast hunt-and-peck-typist, but hunt-and-peck nontheless — for the next few years.
Then, one day, I guess it was my second year of college or so, I was sitting at my keyboard in my room, pounding out some code, when suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was sitting there typing — fast — and not looking at my fingers.
I don’t know when the transition from hunt-and-pick to touch-typing happened. It clearly happened sometime in late high school or early in college, but for the life of me, I couldn’t narrow it down more than that. All I know is that after something like 10 years of typing, I was finally touch typing. Might have been 8 years, might have been 12. I have no clue beyond that.
My style isn’t exactly what the teacher drilled into us. For example, I never use the right shift key, even though we were supposed to use it when shifting keys on the left side of the keyboard. On the other hand (no pun intended), I always use my right thumb to hit the space bar, even though we were taught to alternate.
Still, as someone that spends upwards of 12 hours a day at a keyboard, I’m glad this skill finally managed to wind its way into my nervous system and take hold. Being able to see what you’re writing pour out onto the screen without having to look up from your fingers makes it a lot easier!