TODAY   |  April 26, 2013

Looking back at a lost art: Typing

Would young people today recognize a typewriter? TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe looks at the dying art of typing, rapidly being supplanted by two-finger texting on smartphones.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> things like proper penmanship and simple phone calls almost obsolete. jenna wolfe is here and looks at another potential tragedy.

>> brace yourself. are you sitting zmodown? with texting and tablets and smartphones, is it the beginning of the end for typing as we know it? once upon a time it was the unmistakable sound of work getting done.

>> typewriters were an amazing invention. these machines were in every office, on everybody's desk. it really was a big deal with the comparison like now of having the latest gadget.

>> reporter: remember typing class where getting an a, b or c depends on how fast could you type them out on the keyboard and if you made a mistake --

>> these machines didn't have a correction key. the only way to make the correction is people did it in a few ways, back space to the mistake they made, write over the mistake, put the sheet in the machine, type over the mistake.

>> reporter: in retrospect a technological oversight so we moved on to the computer, where unlike the typewriter, your fingers could dance across the keyboard with reckless abandon because at least you had this guy but fast forward to today and the computer has grown up or down, as in size. suddenly instead of ten fingers to type you only need two and who needs delete when you have auto correct because that never gets you in trouble. typing became texting and texting took off. americans send an estimated 6 billion texts every single day. the average teen sends 60 texts a day. 60 texts a day? who are these kids? we went to a technology class at joseph pulitzer middle school in queens to see if typing really is losing out to texting. what are you better at?

>> i would say better at texting.

>> reporter: really?

>> yes.

>> reporter: have you ever written long sentences, paragraphs, pages, papers, anything, over texts?

>> papers.

>> reporter: what do you mean a paper?

>> i did my l.a. book report on my phone.

>> reporter: did you a whole book report on your phone?

>> yes.

>> reporter: and it can be a struggle for today's teachers to help kids rediscover the lost art of typing.

>> it's the arrogance of youth, the arrogance that i know everything there is to know. i text all the time. i can text quickly. why do i need this typing skill in we disabuse of this emof the idea every problem can be solved with a smartphone.

>> reporter: just as this generation's gotten comfortable, the latest technology has us down to one.

>> now you can slide and glide to type words and phrases and sentences, swift key, swipe and others are making it so that as you're gliding it it's automatically starting to learn what you're trying to write and it will appear on the screen and you can choose that.

>> reporter: if someone could find a way to dial with your -- well that's technology i could get, well, behind. you'd be surprised how fast the kids are typing. i saidly type a paragraph with ten fingers, you text the same one with two, hands down, three out of three they beat me every single time.

>> really?

>> the kids are so good, typing at a fast rate with the thumbs you sit them down, they don't know what they're doing.

>> every office in america has a keyboard so you're better off, you have to learn that skill.

>> i just use three fingers.

>> you're a pick and peck?

>> you're the picker, one of these. ding, ding, ding.

>> we're so obsolete. just lay back.