Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The birth of the typewriter

Saw yesterday in The Writers Almanac that it was the anniversary of the first patent in 1893 of the kind of typewriter where you could see the text as you typed.

It's twenty five years since I was converted to using word processors but I still get a childish pleasure in some of the things you can now do on a computer in Word. 

I learned typewriting as a mature student in a class of 17 year olds.  At more than twice their age and probably older than the tutor, it offered me plenty of comic moments especially as she never knew whether to include me in her 'silly girls' admonitions to work harder and better and stop giggling.

We learned on Adler machines with their rat a tat noises and their unforgiving ways.  One of the things I hated most doing on those typewriters was centring text.  Such a performance counting letters and spaces.  What a joy when I transferred to word processing and found a function key that did it all for me.  What a doddle!

Of course a lot of the discipline of learning to type remains.  I touch type still and have this instinct to correct as I go along as we had to.  Not necessary to do it these days and I understand it's not encouraged but the urge remains.

Would I want to go back to the Adler or its modern version?  Probably not but I like the thought that I tamed the beast and could do so again if need be.

1 comment:

  1. When I got married the first time and moved out of my parents' house my wife got a ring and I got my own typewriter, a manual one. Years later I moved onto an electric one - God, it was noisy - but I've been using word processors now since I was in my early thirties, so twenty years. I miss the noise of the typewriter sometimes. Computers may be efficient but they do lack character.