Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing

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Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
1987 box art for Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
1987 box art for Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
Original author(s)Norm Worthington,[1]
Walt Bilofsky,
Mike Duffy[2][3]
Developer(s)The Software Toolworks (now part of Brøderbund)
Initial releaseLate 1987; 33 years ago (1987)
Stable release
Operating systemmacOS, Microsoft Windows

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is an application software program designed to teach touch typing.


The typing program was initially released in late 1987 by The Software Toolworks and has been published regularly ever since. The original version was written by Charles R Haymond, an independent computer programmer living in Berkeley California who later worked for the Department of Homeland Security.[4] The first version written for MS-DOS was created by Norm Worthington, Walt Bilofsky, and Mike Duffy.[2] Editions of Mavis Beacon are currently published by Encore Software (hybrid Mac and Windows) and Software MacKiev (macOS only) and are available throughout the retail sales world. An early version supported both QWERTY and the alternative Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout. Later versions supported only QWERTY until the 2011 Ultimate Mac Edition from Software MacKiev which returned full Dvorak keyboard lessons to the product. Earlier versions were made for Apple II, Commodore 64, Atari 400/800 (version 1 only), Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Mac OS, Windows, Palm OS (version 16), and Amiga systems. The current Windows and Mac versions are published under the Brøderbund trademark by both Encore and Software MacKiev.


A screenshot from the Window version of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing showing a typing game that features car racing.
A typing game in Mavis Beacon featuring car racing (Windows version.)

The program includes a number of speed tests and constantly tracks the user's words-per-minute typing speed. It also includes a number of typing games of which some versions have been included since the first release. (The 2011 Ultimate Mac Edition for macOS, published by Software MacKiev, also includes two-player competitive typing network games, integration with iTunes, Dvorak keyboard support, practice typing song lyrics, RSS news feeds and classic novels.) A certificate of achievement can be printed by the user upon the completion of tests.

This program is also used in many schools and homes to improve typing skills.


Mavis Beacon is not a real person. The original photo of Mavis Beacon was of Caribbean-born model Renee L'Esperance. She was introduced to Les Crane, the former talk-show host, while he was shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Crane, who was then a partner in The Software Toolworks, invented the sobriquet.

Mavis Beacon's first name was taken from Mavis Staples, lead vocalist for the Staple Singers. The surname derives from beacon, as in a light to guide the way.[5]


A favorable review[6] in 1987 by Peter Lewis, technology writer for The New York Times, gave the program an early boost.

Compute! favorably reviewed the program in 1989, stating that children, adults, and experienced typists would find it useful, and citing its support of Dvorak training.[7]


  1. ^ Norman Worthington: Executive Profile & Biography, Bloomberg, ...One of Mr. Worthington's earliest ventures was Software Toolworks, one of the first highly successful consumer software companies...
  2. ^ a b Biersdorfer, J. D. (31 December 1998). "Next They'll Say Betty Crocker Isn't Real, Either". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Walt Bilofsky's Home Page - Software Publisher, ... I was one of three programmers who designed and created the perennial software hits The Chessmaster and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing...
  4. ^ Codex Gamicus:Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  5. ^ MACKLIN, William (November 19, 1995). "Supertypist Mavis Beacon Is A Creation Of Marketing". Seattle Times.
  6. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (17 November 1987). "PERSONAL COMPUTERS; Feedback In Typing Program". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Randall, Neil (January 1989). "Mavis Makes It Easy". Compute!. p. 70. Retrieved 10 November 2013.

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