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					                       OPEN RESPONSE - The World’s Fastest Typist

1. What type of keyboard is the only keyboard Barbara Blackburn will type on?
A. IBM            B. Electric C. QWERTY          D.Dvorak

2. What was Mrs. Blackburn’s highest speed she obtained typing?
A. 170 gwam      B. 150 gwam       C. 250 gwam        D. 212 gwam

3. When did Mrs. Blackburn first start typing on a Dvorak keyboard?
A. high school         B. college           C. 1st job        D. 1978

4. What motive do the executives have in trying to nab Mrs. Blackburn for their personal
A. they want the job done right
B. They want the job done fast
C. she was good at bookkeeping and typing
D. all the above

5. What was Mrs. Blackburn’s error frequency?
A. 2/10 of 1%          B. 10%             C. 50%               D. 2%

6.The passage says the QWERTY keyboard was her downfall in high school. Why do you
think it was?
A. the arrangement of the keys on the keyboard
B. She didn’t like her typing class, that’s why she made an Inferior
C. She was not a very good student in school and did not like to study
D. her class size was too big.

7. Mrs. Blackburn’s GWAM rate that she can maintain is:
A. 23 gwam        B. 125 gwam      C. 150 gwam        D. 170 gwam

8. Why was Mrs. Blackburn’s exceptional GWAM rate published in the Guinness Book of
World Records for a decade?

A. it’s quite an accomplishment to type that fast
B. Guinness recognizes all types of interesting records
C. both A & B
D. she was already famous

Mrs. Blackburn graduated from Business college in 1939, she had 4 jobs after that. Where were
they and what positions did she hold at those jobs?
Criteria Needed    Possible Points   Points Earned
Open Sentence      1
Close Sentence     1
1 job & position   1
2 job & position   1
3 job & position   1
4 job & position   1
TOTAL              6
Barbara Blackburn, the World's Fastest Typist
Typing, Fastest. Mrs. Barbara Blackburn of Salem, Oregon can maintain 150 gwam for 50 min
(37,500 key strokes) and attains a speed of 170 gwam using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard
(DSK) system. Her top speed was recorded at 212 gwam.

(Source: Norris McWhirter, ed. (1985), THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS, 23rd US
edition, New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.)

How does she type so fast? The key, so to speak, is in the keyboard design. Blackburn
will type on nothing but the Dvorak keyboard, which has vowels on one side and
consonants on the other, with the most frequently used letters on the center row. "It
makes much more sense than the standard, so-called Qwerty keyboard (named after the
first five letters on the top row)," Blackburn said. In fact, it was the Qwerty keyboard that
was her downfall in high school typing class back in Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

       "Typing was the bane of my existence." (bane- pest)

       She remembered how her I-minus (I for Inferior) typing grade kept her from graduating at the
       top of her class. As it was, she graduated third in a class of 46 students.

In 1938, as a freshman in business college, Blackburn first laid hands on a Dvorak keyboard. She
took to it like a fish to water. In only a few years her speed was up to 138 words per minute.

     Blackburn had been such a whiz in her other high school classes, it was no surprise that she
     would attempt to better her record as a typist. The Dvorak keyboard was what did it for her.

 When a representative of the Royal Typewriter Co. came to her business college looking for
someone to train as a demonstrator of the Dvorak keyboard, she decided to give it a try.

In no time at all she was as good a typist as she was a bookkeeper and stenographer.
She had won statewide contests in the other two fields as a high school student.

         Carrying her own Dvorak typewriter with her wherever she worked after graduation from
         business college, Blackburn's extraordinary talents paved her way. From 1939 to 1945 she
         worked as a legal secretary, and when she decided she needed a change of pace and left
the law firm, "I left with the reputation as the best legal secretary in Kansas City," she proudly

Suddenly there was a mad scramble of executives trying to nab her for their personal

Blackburn next worked at an electronics company, first as office manager and
then as a sales engineer. She did speed typing demonstrations at the Canadian
National Exposition and the Canadian Educational Conference. It was then that she was clocked for
the the Guinness Book of World Records, in which she was listed for a decade as the world's fastest
typist (the category has since been removed). Blackburn went to work at State Farm Insurance in
Salem, where she is still employed in the word processing department.

                   Also, she starred in a television commercial for Apple Computers, which offered a
                   switchable Dvorak-Qwerty keyboard with its
Apple IIc model.

Nevertheless, anyone who has seen her whizzing fingers in action, as well as the flawless results on
paper (her error frequency is two-tenths of one percent), can have no doubt that Barbara Blackburn is
indeed the world's fastest typist.

                                            End of page

                                Dvorak Keyboard Index
                                           by Bob Ranger