Cherry Saturday, June 23, 2018

Today is Typewriter Day.

I love typewriters.  I have no idea why, they were a nightmare to write my first master’s thesis on, and I can’t imagine using one again.  But there was something lovely about the click of those keys.  

Typewriters are just cool.

41 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, June 23, 2018

  1. Manual ones were hard work – getting the little-finger keys to strike as hard as your forefinger ones. And going a bit too fast and jamming them. Loved it when I was provided with an electric golfball one. But it was embarrassing that my boss – who’d done a year at secretarial school rather than going to university – could type faster on a manual than I could on an electric (12-week short course only). And producing clean carbon copies was a challenge for me.

    Switching to a PC in 1987 was fabulous. You could rerun copy to fit different measures without having to type it all over again. And then they invented alphasorting!

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    1. I remember back in the 80’s having both an electric typewriter and a PC at my desk – I actually preferred the typewriter because the PC was so finicky 😉

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      1. Bet you weren’t trying to write copy to fit precisely into complex layouts; or generate A-Z plant lists for major reference books . . .

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        1. Depended on the printer. I spent several years insisting to my co-workers (guys, bless them) that NO, a dot-matrix printer did NOT produce letter-quality correspondence. Not the original dot-matrix and not its couple of successors. We finally got an IBM Quietwriter printer which was (barely, at 180 dpi) passable. Picky, picky.

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    2. I had been playing the piano for more than five years when my (business school owner) great aunt taught me to type. I had no problem getting the little-finger keys to strike as hard as the other. 🙂

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      1. Once I learned to type on a manual typewriter, my little fingers developed such muscles that I actually did better at university in field sports (discus) than PE majors. The last thing you do with a discus uses your fourth and fifth fingers . . . .

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      2. LOL, I was a pretty good typist in high school, but the best typist in class was also a talented boy piano player. Boy, was he fast! Don’t know how good his content was, but his skills were exceptional!

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  2. Typewriters make a bustling, productive sort of noise.

    The sort of noise that seems appropriate for writing a series of investigative pieces exposing corruption at City Hall.

    Or snappy repartee in a Katherine Hepburn movie.

    But I don’t miss using them.

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  3. Although, now that I think on it, using white out might be preferable to my phone’s auto incorrect.

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  4. I was thinking that typewriters got women off the farms and away from sweatshops of the early 20th century. That’s if they were lucky enough to get past 8th grade. I read an article (Googled) that men found the work boring and women had better dexterity with the keys but were paid half as much as men in the office. They were also kept separate from the men. That’s probably where cube farms started. When I started working in an office we were somewhat separate from the men, they had the perimeter (read window seating) and women were in the center. Yes, PC’s were a blessing. Imagine typing a carbon copy and making one stinking mistake and having to do the whole thing over again. Copy and paste I loved it. The joys of working with a split screen etc.

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  5. I love typewriters, although I’d never use one regularly. I took a keyboarding class and in high school (in the 90s) and we were a poor rural school, so we didn’t have enough computers. You got rotated to a typewriter a couple times a semester. I hated that teacher and I never did get very fast, but I could touch type and I wasn’t intimidated by a typewriter like most kids my age.

    It got me my first college job, which I loved. I was an library aide at the Rare Books division of the library. Because the books were delicate and valuable, you typed up all the Library of Congress number on a little paper tab and inserted it into the book. It wasn’t a lot to type, so making a mistake wasn’t too frustrating. Then I shelved them. I had young legs so I did a lot of the book fetching too. I thought it was so much fun. They’d give me a book cart full of books to do and leave me alone until I came and asked for more. Sometimes I’d just sneak into the stacks and read. Other times when it was slow, I stuck a sheet of paper in the typewriter and typed out poetry I knew by heart, just reveling in the click clack sound and pretending I was Rosalind Russell 😉

    My boss was really the only person who knew how to fix the typewriter when something went wrong. I did wonder what they were going to do if it really and truly broke. E-bay? I assume they must have a new system now (everyone there was close to retirement), but I still remember those days fondly.

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  6. Does anyone else remember the Gestetner machine? It was an early form of a duplicating machine. You would type on a three part form that had a coating on the paper. Correcting any mistakes was a horrible job. After you finished typing it, it was attached to a cylinder and you cranked it. The smell of the chemicals used in the process would turn your head. I don’t have fond memories but I have vivid ones. Aren’t smells supposed to evoke the strongest memories?

    I still have the portable typewriter my dad bought me for college. I never use it but I will never get rid of it either.

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    1. Yes. That’s a mimeograph machine, right? I never knew the brand name until reading your post.You’re so right — the smells were awful. Did you ever not screw a tube of ink refill into the drum correctly and have that gooey ink get all over everything? What a mess!

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      1. Right, and I was actually taught to make color prints on one — separate masters for each color. With a hectograph, you used different colors to make a single multi-color master which in turn made about fifty copies.

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    2. Ditto made a reverse image good for about 50 copies. Mimeograph / mimeo with a Gestetner could do many more copies. My APA used either. Loved the smell of corflu at 2am, the plasticky equivalent of whiteout for mimeo cutting.

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    3. Oh, I loved the smell of mimeographed worksheets in school! In that crazy purple color (-:. That brought back a flood of memories . . . .

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  7. Just remembered the telex machine. Loved the thrill of striking a key in London and making its twin strike in New York.

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    1. On the flip side, you can now purchase a computer keyboard that simulates the sounds of a manual typewriter.

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      1. back in the day, there was a Monty Python computer game that came with a file you could use to assign fart sound effects to every keystroke. 🙂

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  8. Love typewriters too. Reading the comments about all the vintage ways to type and copy,brought back all the mess of fixing mistakes. One early job was typing the telex messages all day long. Boy, could I type fast in those days. Still have my parent’s Smith Corona typewriter and my electric one. I found my mother-in-law’s old typewriter this spring in her storage unit. It has a missing key and was going to bring it home with me, but, it would cost a small fortune in shipping and then finding someone to fix it. Not that I would use it. And where would I put it. I’m trying to downsize. I was so tempted.

    Love my computer and love my typewriters and love to write long hand early in the morning, outside on the balcony, with a good cup of coffee and watch the world wake up.

    Fixing mistakes on the Gestestner was the worse.

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  9. I think people love them, because of the potential, representing the words unwritten.
    My parents bought me a proper one, when I was little, just because I wanted it, I still have it. I used it to type out old style telegrams for my friend’s wedding.

    I wrote my University dissertation on an electronic typewriter, it was also good for printing letters (I didn’t have a printer or a personal computer), small screen, but it got the job done.

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  10. Argh! I flunked, actually flunked, typing my junior year. If not for that, I could have been a contender…but once PCs came up, I could use that touch typing, and correct mistakes as I went. Never could get a perfect letter.

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    1. I loved that, and I think there’s a market for adult bedtime stories these days. What is that book? Go the Fuck to Sleep?

      This story is so very you! And out of many great lines, I think my favorite was “I’m going to blow your argyles off.” Isn’t argyle a kind of rabbit, too?

      https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=_spMAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA287&lpg=PA287&dq=argyle+rabbits&source=bl&ots=M1eWGYn-63&sig=4dttQIQo8El7TeipmhxmAeaCfUc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7vKeNjvPbAhVCGJQKHcOWAogQ6AEImwEwGg#v=onepage&q=argyle%20rabbits&f=false

      “The only rabbits on the continent of Argyleshire are in a small island in Lochow, used as a warren by the Duke of Argyle.” (What a peculiarly satisfying sentence!)

      But anyway, of course rabbits would only have Argyle socks, if they had any at all. All this lacks is a HEA — maybe Zumpf turns out to be a Heyeresque Freddie.

      Thanks for the story!

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  11. There are apps that make your phone keyboard or iPad keyboard sound like a typewriter. My husband sometimes uses one and it produces a remarkable mix of nostalgia and annoyance. One of them is Hanx Writer which is from Tom Hanks. When I was a child my mother typed dissertations for graduate students in the evenings and weekends (her day job was as a telephone switchboard operator – something else that no longer exists). I went to sleep every night with the click-clacking of typewriter keys in the background.

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    1. My Mom did insurance company typing, at home, in the 80s. The kid would drop off the recordings at 10am and pick up whatever Mom had ready to go at the same time. So yeah, we’d hear typing a lot at night. Plus she’d type (and proofread) our papers.

      Mom actually killed at least 1 typewriter by typing too fast. The keys would tangle and get stuck or just break. The idiot repair guy told her to type slower! Nope happening. She ended up with a better/professional grade typewriter.

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    2. One of my first “real” jobs (not a fast-food restaurant), I started out in Medical Records of a multi-physician office. A friend worked the switchboard and taught me. I loved it. It had to be around 1971. Then I got promoted to a receptionist in the Pediatric department. But that switchboard…loved it.

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  12. I remember writing my first short stories on a manual typewriter. And having to retype them every time there was a single mistake. OY. (but I still love them). Wrote all my college papers on an electric typewriter with an eraser ribbon on it, and thought it was the height of technology 🙂

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  13. For anyone who likes typewriters, you should watch the documentary that came out recently called “California Typewriter.” It was truly excellent. And yes, Tom Hanks is in it, lol. Along with John Mayer and some famous writers, all who still love the typewriter.

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5966990/

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  14. My first (and favorite) typewriter was a Royal that my daddy found in a dumpster. It worked just fine, but the keys stuck occasionally. It weighed a dang ton, I could barely lift it. I loved that thing and would sit there pounding out poems and stories and lists on it for hours. As much as I love my computer, and I do, there’s just something compelling about an old typewriter.

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  15. I was in junior high school when I wrote my first “novel” on an old manual typewriter with some friends. We used half-sheets to make it look like a real book! And single spacing, lol. I think it came out to 96 half sheets; I was the only one with a typewriter, so I did the typewriting, they did the proofing and brainstorming and improving, and then I retyped the pages.

    I still hit the keys wayyyyyy too hard! My old computer had all the faces worn off, and several keys cracked by the time it died this spring. I like the sound of clacking keys, though.

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