Barbara Blackburn, the World's Fastest Typist
Mrs. Barbara Blackburn of Salem, Oregon can maintain 150 words per minute (wpm) for 50 minutes (37,500 key strokes) and attain a speed of 170 wpm using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK) system.

Compare that to the average workplace typist who reaches about 50 to 60 words per minute. At an even lower rater, is your average web surfer - around 30 words per minute, at a peak.

Keyboard Layout Considerations Myth
“A typewriter keyboard arrangement that solves a temporary mechanical problem on the first typewriter becomes entrenched as the standard for generations to come, even though it is notoriously inefficient.”

"...the claim for the superiority of QWERTY’s chief modern rival, the Dvorak keyboard, which the path dependence people have accepted on its face, is simply not true. Most of the specific claims for Dvorak’s keyboard originate in studies that Dvorak conducted himself. Dvorak’s experiments consisted primarily of comparing the performance of groups of students learning his keyboard with the performance of other groups of students, of different ages, at other schools, with different training regimens, learning QWERTY. Dvorak’s reports on his successes are actually fairly entertaining, with the same sense of mission and enthusiasm as a late-night infomercial on cable TV. But nobody would call them science.”

“Policy and Path Dependence - From QWERTY to Windows 95”, by Stan Leibowitz and Stephen E. Margolis,  Regulation Vol. 18, No. 3, 1995 © 1995 Cato Institute


Average talking speed is 125 to 150 words per minute.

How fast do some of our most well-known speakers speak? Take a look at our current and past Presidents' Inauguration speeches to see how they compare.

Year of Speech President  # of 
Words per Minute
2001 George Bush (#43) 1570 14 112
1997 William Clinton (#42) 2170 22 99
1993 William Clinton (#42) 1507 14 108
1989 George Bush (#41) 2283 20 114
Average 1883 18 108

Even the slowest speaking President speaks about twice as fast as a very good typist types. It's easier and more efficient to talk to someone right here, right now. Make your email more effective by adding voice to it, with netYAK! Order here!

Unit of talking speed:

milliLampson /mil'*-lamp`sn/ n.
A unit of talking speed, abbreviated mL. Most people run about 200 milliLampsons.



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This page updated on: 2/22/2004