Typist Aims for Instant-Messaging Record

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Norman Perez is trying to set a world record for typing at a computer.

Norman Perez is trying to set a world record for typing at a computer. He's pictured here about 19 hours into his quest. He is trying to instant message nearly continuously for three or four days. Margot Adler, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Margot Adler, NPR

Barbara Blackburn holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest typist on a typewriter. The personal computer has been around for more than three decades, but no one had tried for a record involving typing on a computer — until now.

At noon on June 25, Norman Perez sat down at a computer in a real-estate office in Manhattan, in an attempt to set a record for instant messaging. He is trying to continuously type for three or four days, taking no more than a five-minute break every hour. You can watch him through a window.

In his normal life, Perez is an actor, model and set designer. As you watch him type, he is often communicating with four or five people at a time. Some of them are as far away as Russia and New Zealand. According to the rules — a monitor from Guinness is watching — Perez has to keep his hands on the keyboard at all times.

He says that people ask him all kinds of questions: "What kind of car do I drive? Do I have a girlfriend? What kind of job do I do?"

The small real-estate office on the Upper East Side is filled with high-tech gadgets to aid Perez in his quest. His feet rest on a foot massager, and his wrists rest on an ergonomically designed mouse pad. There is even a nutritionist to oversee his meals. Two attractive women occasionally give him shoulder rubs.

When asked how he goes to the bathroom, Perez says he uses the five-minute breaks he can take every hour. But he is saving as many minutes as possible, so he can take a longer nap. There is a special couch called a Metronap that allows him to rest in darkness. It has special headphones with music and an odd noise that is supposed to be restful. During the first night, Perez took one, 20-minute nap.

By early Tuesday morning, Perez seemed tired. As he took a quick sip of coffee, he noted, "My spelling has gotten much worse. It's been a bit of a hard night, just trying to stay awake and fight through it." He hoped his energy would rise with the heat of the day.

And why is he doing this? It apparently came about as a result of a bet. Perez was sitting in a Los Angeles coffee shop and typing on a computer, when another customer gave him a challenge. He took it.

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