Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weeping for Lost Technology - A-Z Blogging Challenge

The typewriter is no more.

When I was a kid, my dad had an old blue-grey typewriter in his study. When he wasn't home - which was often, his work took him abroad a lot - I loved to go in and run my fingers over the keys, slip my nail under the raised letters of the manufacturer logo. Even as a kid writing stories, I liked them better when they'd been produced by Dad's typewriter rather than by my own hand.

Now, I write on a netbook. I sometimes make notes on my smartphone (which I hate, by the way). I haven't used a typewriter since I was twelve or thirteen. It pains me to say it, but they're dying because they've been surpassed by something that is genuinely more convenient.

Doesn't mean I have to like it, though.

I'm an enthusiastic Kindle-owner and ebook-purchaser. I love the smooth screen, the font, the ease with which I can buy books, and the simplicity of carrying one light, durable item that contains many books instead of carrying two heavy, absorbant, easily torn books (I always had to carry two books in case I finished one of them while I was out). Ebooks are fab.

But I still squeed a little inside when I saw the new Penguin Essentials collection - book cover design is an art form and it's a pleasure to see it done well.

For me, print and digital complement each other. Reading a paperback novel and reading a Kindle book are different experiences, and I enjoy both.

And I'm sorry to see that the typewriter and the computer won't be coexisting anymore.

The typewriter has had such an impact on all kinds of art. Typeface design - Courier still evokes something that no other font can. Typewriters appear in so many films (someone pounding the keys hard and walloping the carriage-return lever was great cinematic shorthand for 'I am very busy and important, fuck off'). I think, like the Polaroid camera, they'll be venerated for what they were and what they gave us.

And hopefully, some mad artisan/engineer will go on building them and nostalgia-crazed lunatics like myself can buy them :)


  1. My mum had one of those electric typewriters once. I always thought it was cool that I could type something really fast into it, then watch while it chugged along, trying to catch up.

  2. I cling on to my electronic (not electric, there's a difference as my typist teacher use to emphasise!) typewriter even if I cannot find the cartridge anymore to replace the used one. Sigh.

    I'm hoping that ye olde typewriter will be so retro one day it'll be fashionable again (just like LPs and record players and VHS video recorders/players...)! Take care

  3. I learned to type on a standard typewriter and soon came electric ones where you could type a sentence or two and save it. I remember carbon paper and white out when you made a mistake. Or had to redo the whole dang thing. I miss the feel of the typewriter keys, but love what the computer can do. Sigh!

  4. Isn't that always the way? There is strong nostalgia for the way things were. But it's not strong enough to keep us in the past. We humans are creatures who like their conveniences.

  5. I still have an unopened package of carbon paper in my cupboard although the typewriter it was for has long since gone.

    I am saving it because it 'might come in handy' :)

  6. Kitty, I reckon they already are quite fashionable - typewriter-key jewellery has been around for a while!

    Karen, I definitely agree - typing on a typewriter was very pleasing but computers can do so much :)

    Stephanie, I agree, but at least nostalgia means we can keep these things alive in a limited way.

    Sarah, it just might come in handy! You never know. . . :)

  7. I'm such a bad typist that the computer is a saviour for me! I do miss that satisfying feeling of pressing a key, though.

  8. Yeah I heard about the typewriter dying. I have to say I'm glad I've never had to use it to write. How on earth did people survive?? I rely heavily on the 'cut and paste' adn also 'find and replace' functio. I shudder to think how past authors got past this.

  9. I am completely with you on everything except your misinformation on the horrors of coffee. I enjoy a cup a'tea with the best of them, but my brain refuses to work without my true caffeine.

    Glad to find ya.

  10. Must admit I've never used one - but I bet they don't crash or run out of power ...

  11. Talli, I'm definitely a fan of the computer over the typewriter - I mistype my name as Ekkeb at least ten times a day at work!

    D, I don't even want to imagine how hard that was! Thanks for stopping by, I like your blog :)

    Wanton Redhead, good to find you too, I've followed your blog. Love the sound of your WIP :) Don't think I'll be changing my mind on the coffee though, I can only just about stomach a latte with five spoons of sugar. . . I have the tastebuds of a ten year old!

    Simon, they certainly didn't, but if you were typing too much your parents would certainly complain about the noise. . .


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