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Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is an application software program for teaching touch typing.


The typing program was initially released in late 1987 by The Software Toolworks and has been published regularly ever since. The original version was written for MSDOS by Norm Worthington, Walt Bilofsky, and Mike Duffy.[2] Editions of Mavis Beacon are currently published by Encore Software (hybrid Mac and Windows) and Software MacKiev (Mac OS X only) and are available throughout the retail sales world. An early version supported both QWERTY and the alternative Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout. Later versions supported only QWERTY until the 2011 Ultimate Mac Edition from Software MacKiev which returned full Dvorak keyboard lessons to the product. Earlier versions were made for Apple II, Commodore 64, Atari 400/800 (version 1 only), Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Mac OS, Windows, Palm OS (version 16), and Amiga systems. The current Windows and Mac versions are published under the Brøderbund trademark by both Encore and Software MacKiev.


The program includes a number of speed tests and constantly tracks the user's words-per-minute typing speed. It also includes a number of typing games of which some versions have been included since the first release. (The 2011 Ultimate Mac Edition for Mac OS X, published by Software MacKiev, also includes two-player competitive typing network games, integration with iTunes, Dvorak keyboard support, practice typing song lyrics, RSS news feeds and classic novels.) A certificate of achievement can be printed by the user upon the completion of tests.

This program is also used in many schools and homes to improve typing skills.


Mavis Beacon is not a real person. The original photo of Mavis Beacon was of Caribbean-born model Renee L'Esperance. She was introduced to Les Crane, the former talk-show host, while he was shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Crane, who was then a partner in Software Toolworks, invented the sobriquet.

Mavis Beacon's first name was taken from Mavis Staples, lead vocalist for the Staple Singers. The surname derives from beacon, as in a light to guide the way.[4]


A favorable review[5] in 1987 by Peter Lewis, technology writer for The New York Times, gave the program an early boost.

Compute! favorably reviewed the program in 1989, stating that children, adults, and experienced typists would find it useful, and citing its support of Dvorak training.[6]


  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. 2.0 2.1 Biersdorfer, J. D. (31 December 1998). "Next They'll Say Betty Crocker Isn't Real, Either". 
  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. MACKLIN, William (November 19, 1995). "Supertypist Mavis Beacon Is A Creation Of Marketing". Seattle Times. 
  5. Lewis, Peter H. (17 November 1987). "PERSONAL COMPUTERS; Feedback In Typing Program". 
  6. Randall, Neil (January 1989). "Mavis Makes It Easy". Compute!: pp. 70. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 

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