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The space bar

George Bernard Shaw, typing a Remington Portable Typewriter No. 1 – a very early version of the machine.

I was taught to employ only the right thumb, but in practice I find myself using both thumbs – though mostly the left. Of course, as I write this, I find that typing is like breathing: it gets awkward when you think about it. As George Bernard Shaw put it, “The unconscious self is the real genius. Your breathing goes wrong the moment your conscious self meddles with it.”1

From The Phonographic Magazine (Cincinnati), July 1, 1889 —

© 2019, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. From Maxims for Revolutionaries, though as a trained vocalist, consciousness of breathing is quite a natural experience. []
{ 3 comments… add one }
  • T. Munk November 6, 2019, 3:01 am

    Did writers of the Phonographic have a vendetta against the letter “e”? 😀

    • Mark Adams November 6, 2019, 10:42 pm

      I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’ve read a lot of phonographic/stenographic journals, and some of these intentionally misspell words or use “alternative” spelling. Mostly, I’m looking for information about typewriters, but every now and then I notice a piece about spelling. Unfortunately, I’ve never read a piece that explains/defends their spelling choices. In the example above, the Phonographic Journal seems to intentionally drop the silent “e” in “give” and “have” — but not consistently from article to article. I’ve read some journals where the editors deliberately misspell words — it’s that obvious — and others where it might be a proofreading or typographic mistake.

  • Bill M November 11, 2019, 9:44 pm

    I never give it much thought as to which thumb to use. I think we were just taught to use a thumb for the space bar.

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