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. It was originally created by independent computer programmer Charles Haymond. 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. Version 5 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, PalmOS (version 16), and Amiga systems. The current Windows and Mac versions are published under the Broderbund 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 a retired Caribbean-born fashion model named Renee L'Esperance who was introduced in 1985 to Les Crane, the former talk-show host, while he shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Crane, who was then a partner in Software Toolworks, invented the sobriquet. Her 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.