A CNET News.com staffer noticed that the first typewriter was patented 175 years ago Friday, which sparked these responses from some fellow former ink-stained wretches in the newsroom:
Nostalgic? Come look at the beautiful portable Remington Model 5 on my desk. The typewriter of kings! Or '40s-era drunken hacks--one or the other. I forget which.
-- John Borland
The dream of every journalist my age (at least in the mid to late '70s) was to have a Royal. I had one when I wrote for the Daily Californian in college. You typed each paragraph of the article on a half-sheet of paper. That way, the editors could easily rearrange the paragraphs of the story if necessary (and they did). When I worked at Time magazine in the early '80s, they sent your articles from the West Coast to the main office in New York using a Telex machine. A Telex operator typed them onto the machine manually. Times have changed.
Ahh, the days when "cut and paste" meant using scissors and Scotch tape. And when there was a legitimate, work-related reason for having open bottles of Liquid Paper at your desk.
I just wish we still got to sit around, wearing horned-rimmed glasses and smoking all day.
My first exposure to "advanced" word-processing technology was the IBM Selectric, with its whirring, hair trigger, head banger of a typing element. After I'd spent most of college plunking away at an easily gummed-up Olivetti manual, the motorized speed and authority of the Selectric definitely made it easier to crank out those last few (desperate) papers.
The PC may've taken the typewriter's place on our desks, but not necessarily in our imaginations. For the time being anyway, the typewriter remains an icon of writing, journalism, industriousness and even, as in this wall-mounted sculpture by Argentinean artist Leopoldo Maler, truth itself--and the price paid for writing it.
It's ironic that in the PC age we're still stuck with the qwerty keyboard layout, which was designed in the 1870s to keep a typewriter's keys from jamming by intentionally placing the keys were they could not be struck in rapid succession. Countless cases of RSI later, Qwerty lives on in billions of PC keyboards and Palm Treos.
What's your observation on the typewriter's birthday?