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Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
Original author(s)Norm Worthington,[1]
Walt Bilofsky,
Mike Duffy[2][3]
Developer(s)The Software Toolworks
Initial releaseLate 1987; 37 years ago (1987)
Stable release
Operating systemmacOS, Windows
Platformcross-platform
LicenseProprietary
Websitemavisbeacon.com

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is an application software program designed to teach touch typing. Released in late 1987 by The Software Toolworks, the program aimed to enhance users' typing skills through a series of interactive lessons and games.

Mavis Beacon is an entirely fictional character, created for marketing purposes.

History

Background

Founded by Norm Worthington, Walt Bilofsky, and Mike Duffy, The Software Toolworks was known for its Chessmaster 2000, a chess simulator. The team then embarked on creating educational software. Norm Worthington, co-founder of the company, played a role in the program's development.[4]

The original photograph used to depict Mavis Beacon was that of Haitian-born model Renee L'Esperance. The name "Mavis" was derived from Mavis Staples, the lead vocalist for the Staple Singers, and the surname "Beacon" was chosen for its association with a guiding light.[5][6] Les Crane, the former talk-show host who was a partner in The Software Toolworks during its early years, played a role in creating the persona of Mavis Beacon.[5]

Development

The program's early versions supported both the traditional QWERTY keyboard layout and the alternative Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout.[7][8]

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)

Since its initial release in 1987, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing has undergone numerous iterations. The 2011 Ultimate Mac Edition by Software MacKiev introduced two-player competitive typing network games, integration with iTunes, Dvorak keyboard support, practice typing song lyrics, RSS news feeds, and classic novels.[9] In 2021, Encore, Inc. released Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 2020.[10]

Sales

In 1999, the series had sold over six million copies.[11] In 2000, two products from the franchise were on the Top Selling Educational Software list. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 10.0 is in the fourth position, while Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 5.0 is ranked eighth.[12]

Distributions of the software include MS-DOS, Apple II, Commodore 64, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Palm OS, and Amiga.[13]

Gameplay

Users might find themselves racing a virtual car by accurately typing words that appear on the screen.[14] The program also includes typing drills that present users with passages of text to type out. It provides a comprehensive overview of their progress. Successful completion of lessons and tests can result in the achievement of certificates.[15]

Reception

The New York Times technology writer Peter Lewis notes its potential to improve typing skills.[16] Compute! magazine's review in 1989 supports the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard.[17]

Sequels

Amiga Format's Paul Tyrrell praised its user-friendly design.[18] Nick Veitch of CU Amiga noted that the program was more interesting than traditional educational packages.[18] Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Version 5 was described as a "well-polished program" by Superkids.

See also

References

  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. ^ Biersdorfer, J. D. (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. ^ Next They'll Say Betty Crocker Isn't Real, Either, J. D. Biersdorfer, The New York Times, December 31, 1998, access-date: August 18, 2023
  5. ^ a b Michallon, Clémence (March 14, 2022). "Mavis Beacon was the top typing teacher in the US before she vanished. The twist? She wasn't real". The Independent. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  6. ^ MACKLIN, William (November 19, 1995). "Supertypist Mavis Beacon Is A Creation Of Marketing". Seattle Times.
  7. ^ Take A Deep Dive Into Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing!, Rhett Jones, Kotaku Australia, April 10, 2017, access-date: August 18, 2023
  8. ^ Disk tutorial * £29.99 * Software Toolworks, Amiga Format, July 1993, access-date: August 18, 2023
  9. ^ Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing on Steam, access-date: August 18, 2023
  10. ^ Biersdorfer, J. D. (December 31, 1998). "Next They'll Say Betty Crocker Isn't Real, Either". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  11. ^ Biersdorfer, J. D. (December 31, 1998). "Next They'll Say Betty Crocker Isn't Real, Either". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  12. ^ "GET INFO". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  13. ^ Paul Tyrrell (June 1993). "Amiga Reviews: Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing". Amiga Format.
  14. ^ "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing on Steam". store.steampowered.com.
  15. ^ "SuperKids Software Review of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Version 5". www.superkids.com. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  16. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (November 17, 1987). "PERSONAL COMPUTERS; Feedback In Typing Program". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Randall, Neil (January 1989). "Mavis Makes It Easy". Compute!. p. 70. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Amiga Reviews: Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing". www.amigareviews.leveluphost.com. Retrieved April 15, 2021.

Further reading