Microsoft Typing Tutor

Learning programming with Bill and Paul was like learning to fly with Wilber and Orville.

Creating the Microsoft BASIC computer language was central to making personal computing possible, and writing this manual with Bill made me an expert. But knowing all the vocabulary in detail does not make a programmer any more than knowing how to type makes a novelist or a playwright.

Writing software allows us to create things that can't be done any other way. I suggested to Bill and Paul that a typing program could create custom lessons that would be much more efficient than a typing book or class.

By timing responses on all the keys being typed, I could create lessons that advanced automatically as a person learns. Instead of typing "a-s-d-f" dozens of times because it says so in a typing book, my program would add new keys as quickly as a person learns. Learning to type on the computer would be fast, efficient, and fun.

Bill's response was immediate: "Microsoft Typing Tutor! You work out the design details, get a couple of people to help with the coding, and I'll buy it."

The program was an instant success and remained the most popular educational product for years. As Bill would claim later, "Typing Tutor was the most successful program ever written in BASIC - with line numbers."

This program launched my new career as a software designer and convinced me that the computer was the creative tool of the future.

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