Mark my Word

Mark Twain claims that switching back to a typewriter with round keys improved his typing speed and accuracy by 25%. He praises the ergonomic and nostalgic value of round keys, suggesting that advancements in technology could still benefit from the wisdom of past designs.

Mark my Word

written by

jaron summers (c) 2024



As Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens, if we’re being formal about it, I must regale you with a tale of technological wonder and personal triumph.

You see, I, the esteemed author of “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn,” found myself at the forefront of a literary revolution, being the first person to submit a manuscript tapped out on a newfangled contraption called the typewriter.

Yes, indeed, it was I who blazed the trail into the age of mechanical writing, and what an adventure it has been!

Now, let me share with you a peculiar discovery of mine, one that might tickle your fancy or at the very least, raise an eyebrow.

Having spent a considerable amount of time with the typewriter, I stumbled upon a revelation most profound: the round keys, those little circular sentinels of the keyboard, were far superior to their square descendants in enhancing my typing speed and accuracy.

By Jove, I improved my efficiency by no less than 25 percent!

You might wonder, how could such an antiquated feature of design hold sway over the illustrious Mark Twain? Well, my dear reader, it’s quite simple.

The tactile feedback and distinctive separation afforded by the round keys hark back to a time of simplicity and elegance, qualities often lost in the relentless march of progress.

Imagine, if you will, the steampunk design, with its gears and levers and a penchant for the aesthetic of yesteryear, offering an elderly gentleman such as myself a bridge back to the familiar terrain of my youth.

It’s not merely the visual charm of these keyboards that captured my heart but the undeniable improvement in my typing endeavors. The round keys, you see, are like old friends, guiding my fingers with an ease and precision that the modern square keys could never replicate.

It’s a curious case, indeed, that in our pursuit of the new and the novel, we often overlook the wisdom embedded in the designs of old.

My experience serves as a testament to the idea that progress need not always forsake tradition, especially when the latter holds the key (pun most decidedly intended) to improved performance.

So, as I regale you with tales of my typewriting exploits, remember this: in a world obsessed with innovation, there’s a special kind of magic in rediscovering the past.

And who knows? Perhaps my adventures with the round keys will inspire a new generation of writers to explore the untold potential of yesteryear’s designs.

After all, if it’s good enough for Mark Twain, it ought to be worth a second look.

By the way, if you’re interersted in using the kind of keyboard I’m talking about, and excited Jaron,  check this out.

Neither one of us profits from that link.  I’m dead and Jaron simply likes to share great ideas that making writing a bit easier.   

Surprise!   The key placements on most typewriters were invented to slow you down.  Here is how to speed them up. 

And, the best place on earth to find a typewriter with the kind of keys you want.  They also repair old typerwriters.  Ask Tom Hanks or Woody Allen.

You’ll notice that all the old fashioned

typerwriters had circular keys.

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Jaron Summers wrote dozens of primetime television and radio programs, including those for HBO, CBS, ACCESS TV and CBC. He conceived the TV and Film Institute of Canada. Funded by the University of Alberta and ITV, Jaron ran the Institute for 12 years, donating his services for a decade.

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