series 90

Does anyone have an explanation for McGraw-Hill’s decision to publish series 90?
Such simplification of the system doesn’t seem very logical, given the fact that shorthand has to be fast by nature. 

(by mark for everyone)

7 comments Add yours
  1. >>Does anyone have an explanation for McGraw-Hill's decision to publish
    >>series 90?

    Marketing, marketing, marketing.

    Fast = hard, hard = hard to sell (to students and administrators). Easy =
    appealing, appealing = easy to sell.

    In fact, shorthand was already fading from the curriculum by the time series
    90 came along . . . it was part of a last-ditch effort to create something
    that schools would want to continue to teach.


  2. Alex,   I'll agree with most of what you said about Series 90, but shorthand was not fading from the curriculum YET.  Series 90, I always say, killed it completely.   The decision to move to Series 90 was nothing more than greed at its worst and the ego trip of a few people.  As someone who worked for McGraw-Hill at the time the college editions were being produced, I voiced my opinion to anyone who would listen but TPTB just didn't want to hear what I had to say.   Prior to Series 90, MG-H made 8 million in profit (yes, pure profit) off of shorthand each year.  Series 90 put an abrupt end to that as schools dumped it en mass.  Series 90 students had trouble breaking the 100 wpm barrier so schools which continued to teach shorthand switched to an alpha system.  After all, why waste all that time learning symbols for system with a ceiling when a tried-and-true alpha system could allow students to write fast in less time and be more employable?   Marc  

  3. Short response: The decline of shorthand occured just after the release of Series 90, but that doesn't make it Series 90's fault.   Long response: I don't have the benefit of first hand experience with the company, so just my thoughts here, but I would guess that if shorthand wasn't already on the way out in 1978, it soon would have been; even without Series 90.  With computers, it no longer makes sense for most businessmen to pay a secretary to write his letters by hand and then type them out, when he can just type them himself in the first place in about as much time as it would take to dictate.  In fact, my own business correspondence is 95 percent electronic in this day and age.  I share a few secretaries four ways, and they don't write my correspondence.  They make copies, field calls and run errands.  With the advent of desktop publishing, shorthand was destined to lose mainstream demand.   When a manufacturer forsees the public's transition from its product to a newer one, it will take steps to save what it can of the market, by putting a new face on the product; by making it more sellable.  The reason the world of commerce would inevitably fall away from shorthand is twofold.  First, it is easier to learn to type than to learn shorthand and second, it is cheaper to word process by yourself, as opposed to paying a secretary.  McGraw-Hill couldn't have made it cheaper to use a secreatry, but they could make it easier to learn shorthand; and that's exactly what they did.   As far as the speed factor, I personally prefer something faster, but even if I write it as low as 80 wpm, I'm still writing five times faster than my longhand–not too shabby when you consider how much easier it is to learn (I dont know how much).  Maybe schools dropped shorthand because of Series 90, or maybe they dropped it because they also forsaw the convenience of word processors.  If the latter, then Series 90 should be thanked for extending shorthand's shelf life as much as it did.   ______________________ Praise the lord, I saw the light line!

  4. John, John, John!

    [climbs up on soap box]

    After my stint with McGraw-Hill, I worked in industry as a word processing supervisor and something like a steno-pool manager in several different legal settings. I can assure you that most executives preferred to have a secretary come in and take dictation. For some, it was a status symbol; for others, it was purely a productivity tool since they could be far more productive with a good shorthand writer than without. After all, speedy shorthand writers usually have superior English skills. And there's nothing like a human with a shorthand pad when there's emergency dictation to be given!

    I could not find enough competent people to keep a full staff, partly because shorthand had been dumped from many of the schools in the area. For the time, we were paying a NICE salary to help attract qualified people.

    Yes, technology had advanced but no executive–again, at that time–was going to sit at a keyboard and write a brief! Those who used dictation machines weren't very happy either since tapes frequently got erased before they were transcribed or since dead batteries resulted in unusable recordings or since old tapes broke during transcription. A machine can't help you rephrase something, give you a better word, or "fix it up the way you know I want it."

    Since that time some 20 years ago, times have again changed. Without a reliable shorthand writer on which to depend, I would guess today's lawyers do draft out their own briefs. (I'm not in that industry any longer.) But that transition period was one of sheer frustration at trying to find competent shorthand writers!

    My complaint with McGraw-Hill is/was that Series 90 was never properly tested. All the experts with their doctorates in education "knew better" and managed to come up with a system which had some major problems. As I said in an earlier post, there were some ego issues in the way. Series 90 was a failure as reflected by the fact that Centennial came out rather than second edition of Series 90.

    [climbs off soap box]


  5. In 1972, when I started my Notehand class, I was the only person in the class. I know it is hard to believe, but it's true. Of course they cancelled the class at Christmas, and I continued to get a tutorial once a week from the teacher until June 73. Two years before, they had introduced Notehand because nobody was taking the DJS Gregg that my high school had been offering with the office practice stream.   It sure sounds to me like shorthand was on the way out at that time. I was never asked to use shorthand in any of my various jobs thereafter, until in 1990 I was given three months to get my shorthand up to a reasonable speed to take minutes. Until then I was permitted to take the minutes in long hand, with a tape backup. I actually could, and did take the minutes in long hand until I was able "to get my shorthand up." I only remember having to check the tape once for some information for the minutes.   Then, of course, they stopped having "minutes" and made everyone supply written submissions, and all I had to do was record the vote.   This time I'm doing shorthand for me, really.  

  6. Well, Marc, your interpretation reminds me of an old well-known Proverb which says "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a great fall."   I think the demise of Gregg shorthand could be viewed as a tragic loss for American general education and industry, but to adapt a quote from a famous wolf, "All the better for me, my dear."   Being sh-nd literate now makes one part of an elite esoteric group.   When I was in high school in the mid seventies, I didn't take the bus classes, but shorthand was still standard. I remember the big thick pink textbooks of some of my girlfriends.    Just seeing me meandering about with no lap top, I appear to be relatively powerless; but if I, with the swipe of my pen, can take down verbatim notes at town meetings, church, court, on the phone when overlistening then I've got the documentation. What a boon to jounalists, legal professionals, writers, and historians, field researchers…it's a quantam leap to the head of the class, not to mention the advantage that the exercise of learning the language affords in increasing one's mental facility,–at least after the initial shock wears off. I haven't gotten there yet, but the idea of being a rare commodity adds to the incentive to get there. Add to that, if 30% of the population is no longer taking shorthand, I'm practically snoop proof. But beware, there are some shorthand literates lurking about out there; and they may not be bragging about there ability–at least not if they're smart enough to maintain their anonymous edge.   It all sounds so devious.   Actually my most recent motive for learning gregg is to capture these profound utterances heard in some church services. And when there are "revelationary" mind/heart penetrating thoughts coming so quickly, and I'm writing the first thought and have to interrupt so as not to miss the next thought…I also like to journal and record dreams. I don't have all day to devote to this, but have found it valuable and interesting.    When the masses are once again ready for a Gregg revival, we'll be on the ground floor. Ready with pads, pens, and textbooks, to offer community ed programs by night and weekend and the infiltration of secondary and post secondary programs by day.   Get ready.   Priscilla      

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