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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Typewriters

Royal Quiet De Luxe (1946)
Once upon a time I read that a woman typist would burn as many calories as a man shoveling coal. At the time it seemed believable, all that hammering away on those mechanical keys, thousands of keystrokes per hour, having to scan all those pages of input, sure, that's going to burn a bunch of calories. A man shoveling coal is only making a few large moves while the typist makes hundreds of small ones.

But now Post-hip Scott has sent me a list of writers and the their favorite typewriters, and I would like to know whether there is any truth to this rumor I concocted. A little checking tells me that, no, it's not true. A man shoveling coal burns upwards of 400 Calories an hour, a typist might rise to 90 Calories per hour.

Stephen Bray on Blokes on the Blog quotes a 1958 JAMA report:
A 5-foot-3, 120-pound typist used up 88 calories per hour operating a mechanical typewriter compared to 73 calories per hour on its electric counterpart. Assuming six hours of typing per day, that means 450 fewer calories burned per week. If all else stayed the same, a pound would be gained every 10 weeks, or five pounds a year.
Following the AMA links in Stephen's story got me to the abstract, but not to actual report. On one hand it's kind of annoying. I mean what happened to sharing useful information? On the other hand, the internet is awash with all kinds of activities designed to divert the truth, so I can understand the AMA wanting to maintain control over their information.

Bonus: Kat has an entertaining story about typewriters versus computers.

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