Frank Edward McGurrin

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Frank Edward McGurrin
Born(1861-04-02)April 2, 1861 [1]
DiedAugust 17, 1933(1933-08-17) (aged 72)
Partner(s)Jane Darling McGurrin

Frank Edward McGurrin (April 2, 1861 – August 17, 1933) invented Touch Typing in 1888.[2] He was a court stenographer at Salt Lake City who taught typing classes. He taught himself to touch type without looking at the keys, before challenging and won a competition.


On July 25, 1888, McGurrin, who was purportedly the only person using touch typing at the time, won a decisive victory over Louis Traub (operating Caligraph with eight-finger method) in a typing contest held in Cincinnati. The results were displayed on the front pages of many newspapers.[3] McGurrin won $500 ($10,820 in 2006) and popularized the new typing method.

Whether McGurrin was actually the first person to touch type, or simply the first to be popularly noticed, is disputed. Speeds attained by other typists in other typing competitions at the time suggest that they must have been using similar systems.[4]

The First Touch Operator[edit]

The following interesting story of how Mr. McGurrin came to operate the typewriter by "touch" is thus told in his own word:

Everyone should be glad that Mr. Corbitt made this effort "to take the conceit out of" Mr. McGurrin, not because Mr. McGurrin needed any such medicine, but because the result was the development of an operator who was the first to demonstrate that 'touch' writing was not an unattainable ideal, but could actually be accomplished with a saving of time and labor. This new achievement in typewriter operating immediately attracted wide attention. Mr. Theodore C. Rose, Vice-President of the International Convention of Shorthand Writers, at the meeting at Chicago on September 1, 1881, made the following reference to Mr. McGurrin's work: "I would say that in the past week I was in the office of Walsh & Ford, in Grand Rapids, and that a young man in their office, on a test, wrote ninety-seven words on the type-writer, and read the copy. He did not look at the machine, at all, but kept his eye on the copy. I know he wrote ninety-seven words in a minute, because I held the watch." This utterance is also notable because it is probably the first reference to what we now know as the "touch system" contained in the reports of any of the conventions.[5]


  1. ^ a b Rites Held for Club Founder, Oakland Tribune, Vol.CXIX, No.50 (August 19, 1933), p.3, l.7.
  2. ^ a b Wyckoff Seamans & Benedict (1900), The History of Touch Typewriting, New York: Guilbert Putnam, pp. 6–10
  3. ^ Frank Edward McGurrin Very big text, search by a word "500".
  4. ^ Liebowitz, Stan; Margolis, Stephen E. (June 1996), "Typing Errors", Reason, retrieved 2007-02-14
  5. ^ Shorthand Society , Shorthand-Writers' Association (1881), Proceedings of the International Convention of Shorthand Writers, Chicago: Palmer House, pp. 38–39, ISBN 978-0-559-82063-2