In 1923 American speed typist Albert Tangora (July 2, 1903 – April 7, 1978) set the world record typing speed of 147 words per minute over the course of an hour of sustained typing on an Underwood Standard typewriter, with a QWERTY keyboard. After taking a break, he typed 159 words in a one-minute “sprint”. Tangora’s record has never been exceeded on a manual typewriter.
During the 1920s and 30s Albert Tangora and George Hossfeld dominated the World Championships, with Tangora winning the title a total of seven times. In 1941 he was finally beaten by Margaret Hamma, on an IBM electric. The use of an electric typewriter gave Hamma a distinct advantage and she typed 149 words per minute to win the competition. Despite this outstanding achievement, the most impressive performance was by Tangora who managed an average of 142 words a minute over a one-hour period on a Royal manual. This was the highest ever score for a manual typewriter under full championship conditions, which included the deduction of ten points per error. Tangora’s 1923 score of 147 had been achieved under less strict conditions.
Here are a few other interesting facts about Tangora:
• In 1936 in Chicago, Albert Tangora won his sixth world title with 135 words a minute, beating Cortez W. Peters (133). At the time, Tangora insured his fingers for the princely sum of $100,000 (about US$1.75M today)!
• Tangora believed music was a great help to student typists. He stated that “Practically all Swing music is excellent training material. Swing is rhythm and rhythm is essential for typist training.”
• Tangora used “Man’s Unconscious Conflict” by Wilfrid Lay as practice material, saying “I like to type stuff that puts me in a philosophical frame of mind.”
At the time of his initial 1923 record-setting performance Albert Tangora lived in Paterson, New Jersey, where he had learned his craft, however he moved to Evanston, Illinois, around 1937, and died in 1978.
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