Posts Tagged ‘typewriter’

Photo: Anthony Casillo
The Sholes & Glidden Type Writer, 1874.

Personally, I never liked using a typewriter. Part of the problem was I didn’t learn to touch-type until I was over 50. But I also find typewriters are too limited. Word processors let you search for a word, fix mistakes fast, cut and paste — they also let you see if you accidentally hit the space bar an extra time. (Well, some features are more important than others.) I don’t love spellcheck because it uses a different dictionary from my favorite, and I hate the distracting grammar check. I turn it off.

We all value different things. Some people, for example, still value typewriters.

Anthony Casillo writes at LitHub, “In the late 1970s, I stumbled upon an old, long abandoned, Oliver typewriter stored away in the back room of a typewriter repair shop where I worked in New York City.

“The Oliver was unlike anything I had ever seen. … It was old and deserving of greater appreciation than it was receiving there. It begged me to rescue it from that dark room — and potentially the trash heap. So, I packed up the 30-pound orphan and carried it home on the subway during my standing-room-only rush-hour commute.

“Once home, I began to explore this beauty a little further. The Oliver opened a door to a new world for me, one that ignited my curiosity about the early history of the typewriter. …

“Shortly after the Oliver discovery, I was leafing through the classified section of a monthly typewriter trade magazine when another vintage machine caught my eye: a Blickensderfer typewriter from the 1890s was being offered for sale. The Blickensderfer was a small manual typewriter that used a type element similar to the modern IBM Selectric typewriters that were popular in the 1970s. …

“I took a road trip across two states to purchase and pick up my prize. After all, I thought to myself, when would I ever see another one? On my return trip, a voice inside kept telling me that not only had I just acquired something special, but also, on that day, I had become a collector. …

“Some remained faithful to their typewriters during a period of technological change that began in the 1980s with the introduction of the personal computer. They were the holdouts who refused to part with their trusted friend as technology marched forward, always keeping a place on their desks for tasks that a typewriter could perform more efficiently than their computer. For these people, the filling in of forms, addressing of envelopes, and other small tasks always seemed to get done more quickly on a typewriter, giving the machines an extended life as a secondary writing instrument in many offices.

“And then there are the collectors who see beauty in old, twisted, and often rusted metal. It is not uncommon for a dedicated collector to travel great distances to procure an ancient typewriter for his or her collection. …

“Many of us have a typewriter story to tell — whether we used the machines for papers in high school and college, or watched our grandparents type out letters on their cherished machines — stories that evoke fond memories of a much simpler time.” Hmm. My memory is of paying Harriet to type my college papers. That’s how hopeless I was then.

Read more at LitHub, here. And at National Public Radio, here, you can read about actor Tom Hanks and how his love of typewriters led him to write a book about them.

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Ian Burrell has a funny story at the Independent about the Times of London deciding to create the old-tyme newsroom ambiance by piping in the sound of typewriters clacking. Goodness knows if the young people can concentrate, but it must make the guys with the green shades feel they’re in the right place.

“Almost as if the digital revolution never happened,” writes Burrell, “the newsroom of The Times once again resounds to the clatter of the old-fashioned typewriter.

“Nearly three decades after Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper publisher revolutionised the industry by moving to Wapping and ending the ‘hot metal’ era, his flagship title has reintroduced the distinctive sound of old Fleet Street.

“To the surprise of Times journalists, a tall speaker on a stand has been erected in the newsroom to pump out typewriter sounds, to increase energy levels and help reporters to hit deadlines. The audio begins with the gentle patter of a single typewriter and slowly builds to a crescendo, with the keys of ranks of machines hammering down as the paper’s print edition is due to go to press.

“The development, which was described as a ‘trial’ [in August] by publisher News UK, has caused some bemusement among journalists, one of whom tried unsuccessfully to turn the sound off. …

“The Times’s initiative coincides with a revival of interest in the typewriter, a trend which the newspaper reflected on Page 3 today, with a report on how the actor Tom Hanks has developed the Hanx Writer app, which simulates the sound of an old-fashioned typewriter and has gone to the top of the iTunes app store in the US. Hanks, it noted, can tell the difference between the sounds of an Olivetti, a Remington and a Royal typewriter model. …

“Michael Williams, who began his newspaper career at The Times’s old offices in London’s Gray’s Inn Road in 1973, and is now a senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, saw merit in the idea.

“ ‘People feel to some extent disengaged from the thrill of producing a newspaper, which is galvanising,’ he said, referring to the relative quiet of modern newsrooms.”

More here.

Photo found at Gizmodo 

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