Writing Machines, Much Different Than a Typewriter or Computer

\nA writing machine, also known as a shorthand machine, stenotype, steno writer or stenography writer, helps a user write at speeds of at least 180 to 225 words per minute (wpm). Some experienced stenographers can write about 300 wpm, but the record for the fastest writing in American English on one of the machines is 375 wpm.\n\nA typical keyboard like that on a typewriter or computer has far more keys than does the keyboard on a shorthand machine because the stenotype uses arrangements of letters instead of the entire English alphabet. A writing machine operator presses numerous keys at once to create an entire word or phrase in one stroke. The process called stroking or chording allows fast, accurate transcribing, commonly used for court reporting, deposition reporting, real-time captioning and other writing tasks where speed and precision are important. Contributing to their efficiency, steno machines do not have spacebars, so the software automatically inserts spaces, and one stroke in steno equals six strokes on a regular keyboard.\n\nHearing-impaired people can benefit from real-time captioning because it allows them to read the words of meetings, lectures, classes, news programs and other events as they occur. The captioning also assists individuals who comprehend written words better than they do oral words and those who are unable to hear speakers in noisy rooms.\n\nIn addition to court reporters and real-time captioners, many authors profit from using stenotype machines because the writers find they can produce more work in much less time by taking advantage of the machines’ amazing speeds. Sentences seem to flow more smoothly when writers do not have to type every letter of each word individually. Furthermore, writing as fast as they can speak helps authors create more natural-sounding text because writers can record their ideas immediately instead of waiting to finish typing several words.\n\nPeople who spend considerable time typing on regular keyboards have a greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive-motion disorders. Because a writing machine is at least 300 percent more efficient than is an ordinary keyboard, those who use the proficient machines can complete their work faster and have less exposure to the possibility of physiological injury. Most of the machines are ergonomically correct as well, allowing users to keep their wrists at resting positions while they write and alleviating stress on their necks, shoulders and upper backs.\n\nThe specially designed chorded keyboards have been in use for more than a century, primarily for court reporting and similar activities, but they have recently become recognized as valuable assets for a wider variety of purposes as well.