I attended Pittman shorthand and typing classes, having graduated from the US and Argentinian secondary school systems on an independent basis but having no marketable skills.
In preparation for the FIFA World Cup held in Argentina for 1978, someone in my family, I cannot remember whom but possibly my Tio Abel, clipped out of the paper and brought us an advertisement for bi-lingual, fast typists who were eager to learn Telex and train to work for the National Communications Company.
I jumped at the chance to apply, I do remember it was my Tio Abel that took me to the preliminary test in the city, and awaited further instructions in a small, plain, stuffy, wood floored upstairs room to be further tested or be dismissed. I passed the fluent language part with ease but just barely typed fast enough to be hired. Nevertheless, I began training the following week.
I learned the subway and bus system so well, (by even my Tio Abel’s mass transit expert opinion) I used to take different routes just to diversify and challenge myself. The only way to get to know an international, bustling center is to get lost and have plenty of time to try a variety of routes, food and shopping experiences. I would leave extra early just for these purposes.
For over four months, the applicants in training and I became well acquainted. Our education consisted of memorizing the Telex code, which was a system of holes, punched onto a tape that then ran through a switched on device attached to a printer that typed out the band into Arabic letters. Then we had a break and went back and transcribed pages and pages of written material onto Telex tapes and read them back using the system of punched holes through a teleprinter. Each letter, number or punctuation mark corresponded with a certain number and placement of perforated dots. Similar to the telegraph or even the Morse code, this was way before texting, faxes and computers.
“Telex provided the first common medium for international record communications using standard signaling techniques and operating criteria as specified by the International Telecommunication Union. Customers on any telex exchange could deliver messages to any other, around the world. To lower line usage, telex messages were normally first encoded onto paper tape and then read into the line as quickly as possible.” – from Wikipedia.