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The 10-Key Pad

Author: George Rhodes, Founder of The Keyboard Teacher.George Rhodes

Other than keyboarding instruction being a remedial course, the most significant difference between typewriting instruction and its successor, keyboarding instruction, is that the computer keyboard includes a 10-key pad for numeric data entry.

With the increasing importance of numeric data in computer usage, the value of a 10-key touch entry skill becomes obvious. Despite the beginning keyboarding student having developed an habituated “hunt & peck” skill on the alphabetic (or typewriter) keyboard, he likely has had little experience in using the 10-key pad. Recognizing that a 10-key touch entry skill can be developed in only two or three hours of instruction, this should be accomplished prior to moving the student to the alphabetic keyboard. After the student acquires a touch 10-key skill, he will recognize its benefit and thus be motivated to remediate his “hunt & peck” efforts on the alphabetic keyboard. It is incongruous for a student to apply a productive touch skill to the 10-key pad, then revert to “hunt & peck” work upon switching to the alphabetic keys.

For certain, the use of the numeric keypad will grow at an accelerating rate. A user “in waiting” is the touch-tone phone. Due to a phenomenal growth in the need of unique numbers for home phones, business phones, fax machines, etc., the phone industry is finding it necessary to increase phone numbers from 10 to 13 digits to provide unique, or workable, numbers. With the growth in telephone usage and the lengthening of phone numbers, surely the phone industry will become aware of the advantages of providing phones that have a 1 to 9 digit sequence, rather than the present 9 to 1 sequence. Once the phone keys become a replica of the 10-key pad, the phone operator will be permitted to apply his keypad touch skill in operating the phone. Being the user of a phone modified to have its numbers organized in the fashion of the computer’s 10-key pad, undoubtedly I am among the first to apply a touch entry skill to the telephone “dialing” process.

The 10-key pad is quite safe from replacement by voice recognition technology. Why? It is far quicker to key, say, “3,”8,” and “1,” than – to vocalize these digits, or to say the number “three eighty one.” The importance of numeric data accuracy is equally supportive of physical finger entry, relative to human speech. For alphabetic text, spell checkers are available to assist the keyboarder in locating entry errors. However, for numeric data a “number checker” is nonexistent as there is no such thing as a “wrong” or incorrect number. And, unlike words, one cannot find a dictionary that correctly “spells” numbers.

While “hunt & peck” entry on the 10-key pad is not as spectacular as that involving the alphabetic keyboard, it is highly unproductive. “Hunt & peck” on the 10-key pad normally includes only one or two fingers, some 20% to 40% of the five fingers applied in touch operation of the keypad. Based on 5 digit numbers, a touch operator of the 10-key pad can key at a 50+ numbers per minute rate. Observing society’s widespread nontouch use of the 10-key pad, I submit that few events have the potential to increase the efficiency of our economy as that of providing our citizens with a 10-key touch entry skill.