Long live the typewriter!

A DELIGHTFUL piece of guff on the IT Examiner web site today – a Press Trust of India (PTI) story all about how typewriters are making a comeback.

However, I have a confession to make. I have hung onto my IBM Selectric because I was fond of it so much. OK, it’s true that’s an electric typewriter,but my acquaintance with typewriters goes back far further than that. I got my first baby typewriter when I was 11 or 12 – my dad was a duty officer on Saturdays at a government establishment, and there was little else to do while he stood duty but play with the office typewriters.

The PTI story suggests that people are returning to typewriters so they can get up to speed with computer keyboards, but when I was in my early days of working, in the mid-1960s, offices had what was called a “typing pool”. These lasses, and they were invariably lasses, either took dictation directly or via a Dictaphone, or from an executive’s longhand.

The draft then went back to the suit to check, so there were plenty of opportunities for SNAFUs. Now, these days, the tables are turned, and the suits, whether they be female suits or mail suits, have to tap away on their own keyboards, so turning them into overpaid secretaries.

There was nothing more satisfying, in the days before photocopiers, than getting three sheets of quarto, bunging in two sheets of carbon paper, and expressing yourself forcibly through the power of QWERTYUIOP.

Type too fast or not skilfully enough, and the ts and the cs, the as and the ks all jammed together in a satisfying clash of the letters of the alphabets in which none of them won.

I don’t know why I’ve kept my IBM Selectric, but I’ve also hung to my AB Dick offset litho printer, a letterpress printer, and even a Stinkpad Butterfly from IBM as well as the bastard offspring of Acorn, the horrid Acorn Atom. This got so hot the only way it could be kept running was to cut a hole in the plastic casing to let out the heat. The other alternative was to continue to let the plastic melt onto the microprocessor. Must be nostalgia, I guess.

One response to “Long live the typewriter!

  1. I still wonder why the butterfly doesn’t make a comeback. [typed on a Model M (c)1984 Lexmark Co.]

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