High-Speed Russian

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Many thanks to Pete Roberts for sending in this amusing anecdote from his days at the Cambridge University Press.

WAY BACK in 1969 I was a young Monotype keyboard operator at Cambridge University Press. Keen to ‘get on’, I volunteered to study Russian at night class (unpaid) with a view to typesetting Russian at work.

This carried a premium of ten shillings (50p) a week. I also volunteered to demonstrate the Mono keyboard system for visiting groups of academics and as they gathered around my machine I would typeset Russian text at astonishing speed, probably 20,000 keystroke/hour in Cyrillic!

Of course the astonished onlookers had no idea I was rattling out total garbage as they only saw the punched tape chattering out of the machine.

This was a regular source of amusement to my colleagues as the impressed visitors wandered off muttering ‘genius’ and such like!

The tape ended in the bin of course but the exercise cheered up many a dull day.

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