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Meet the hot new Web interface: fingers

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Did you feel it at 25 words a minute? Maybe you had to hit 40 or 60. If you can touch-type, you’ll recall the moment when muscle memory kicked in and you realized you could think through your fingers.

Musicians had known the feeling long before Frank Edward McGurrin in 1878 trained himself to be the fastest man alive on the keyboard by learning to type without looking at the keys. But while musicians communicate in an exquisitely soulful language, their message can’t be relied on for clarity.

Nobleman: “Quick, knave, knowst thou how to free us from the bottom of this well?”
Knave (strumming mandolin): “Does it go something like this, my liege?”

If your fingers on “ASDFJKL;” feel as natural as talking, then you owe a debt to young McGurrin. A go-getter law clerk in Grand Rapids, Mich., he was already a capable typist when his boss lied to him one day about watching a young woman in another office blazing away on the keyboard while gazing serenely out a window. McGurrin made up his mind that “whatever a girl could do I could do .... I discarded my former method of two or three fingers and determined to use all of my fingers.” He eventually clocked in at 90 words per minute.


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