please empty your brain below

It's shocking to be reminded of the huge number of limitations that typewriters had - especially when you think of the things we cannot live without today!

I never grew up with a typewriter myself - school and college was an evolution of BBC computers, ECOnet and dot matrix printers - and when I started work - even the "typing pool" were using Wordstar.

Cleaning the typewriter keys with putty-type stuff to get the ink out of the middle of the closed letters... pencil type-print erasers (just took the surface off the paper)... black and red ribbons out of line so you got two-tone print. Oh yes, I remember it well...

I still shudder when I think of the number of 12 page reports that I made various secretaries who've worked for me over the years re-type because I wanted to change the odd word or phrase here or there.

I'm 30 this year and I've used a typewriter once. Then I ordered my parents to come home with a Commodore 64 and that was the end of that.

You're reminding me that I can blame the typewriter for the annoying differences in end-of-line codes in different operating systems. Is it carriage return+line feed? Just carriage return? Just line feed? Gak! I wonder if I can still find that copy of Paperclip-64?

My Gran had a big old typewriter she used to let me play on. It was similar to the one in the movie Misery. Huge, heavy and made a fantastic amount of noise, with a gloriously subtle 'ting' sound which seemed to calm you down before you started on the next line.

The kkrrrr!ting! of returning the carriage was deeply satisfying, especially if you were working fast and heard it in quick succession. I started writing on my mum's mechanical typewriter, then switched to an electronic, which had a primative 'undo' function involving a white tippex ribbon, before moving entirely to PC word processing.

And, I'm afraid, I *like* QWERTY. Slamming the enter button with the little finger isn't quite as fun as slamming the whole carriage across with a big shiny lever but otherwise I like the layout.

strangely enough i was going to blog about the very same thing after preaching to my daughters how lucky they are.

i remember the carbon copies and that bloody carbon paper drove me beserk. replacing a ribbon could be a nightmare and i often got my fingers stuck inbetween the keys as i was taught to type on one of those huge great monsters.

isn't life easy now ...

I'm 21 and have experienced both mechanical and electric typewriters. By the time I used them regularly (I was one of those weird kids who used a typewriter reguarly when they were eight years old), we had the electric one and it came with a primitive erase function, which back then was all sorts of nifty.

But sometimes I would use the old mechanical one - the 'ping' when you were about to run out of space, the 'krrr-ting' when you slammed back the carriage... Wonderful memories.

I recall vaguely having a go on a manual typewriter [I'm 28], but I remember much better the electric typewriters my mum used to use that I thought were wonderful. They'd still get stuck sometimes and you'd get your fingers inky pulling the arms (thingies, whatever) back down. But you also had the wonderful corrector ribbon, which somehow managed to miraculously erase without the need for icky Tippex. And the incredibly satisfying clunk and whirr when you pressed return. Wonderful.

The real joy of tippex was those little bottles of tippex thinner that you could buy. Mmmm... Course none of the kids in the playground ever thinned any tippex with it, but it was great fun to sniff.

I used to type up the Golf Club Meeting Minutes for my Father on a little bashed up manual typewriter when I was 12. Would take me forever but like wow, it's paid off now with my 80wpm speed.

Someone recently asked me what it was like to work in an office before mobile phones and emails. I told him it involved hours standing by a fax machine and a lot more conversation and telephoning. It's hard to remember to be honest.

Actually that's a really nice font for this post Mr DG

It is the mistake/thinking thing that always amazes me. I used to type pages on a typewriter without error or rephrasing.

I must have completely changed the way I I can't write a line without revising. Is my writing better or worse as a result?
Who knows.
Very interesting.

I got a manual typewriter for my ninth birthday - it was great and I loved it! They haven't been able to stop me from writing since.

Glad to see you've switched to Courier.
It's far superior
Now what about golfballs?

Hmm, I wonder if children who once used typewriters are more likely to have ended up as bloggers 20 years later.

Once again, lovely memories so beautifully raised. Thank you. Electric typewriters were the biz in the seventies, because they gave the same force and impression to every letter. Unlike manual, which always showed up the "pinkie" keys with smaller force. (See endless Agatha Christie-type mysteries.)

QWERTY was not made to slow typists up (a well-held fallacy - before qwerty there were no typists), but simply to put common sequences onto opposite sides of the machine. And reduce jamming that way.

Once learned, qwerty is as fast as any other keyboard. I love it. Even now, touch-typing is the sine qua non of happy keyboarding.

How many of you touch-type though? I never learned, and can still type 70wpm two-fingered.

I must confess that I still can't use three or more fingers without seriuosly mistpying evreythgni but, like you Matt, I'm pretty fast with two.

I half-learnt touch-typing but never got the whole way. I use three on my left hand and only two on right, which is just daft.

Well I grew up playing on my mum's typewriter (am 24 now), and pleaded with my parents to get me my own electric one. They told me not to be daft, and that I could use the computer instead (think we had a Commodore 64 by then). Meanwhile my mother encouraged me to learn to touch type when I was at school - since then it's come in very handy at Uni, and with this dratted thesis I'm supposed to be doing

And correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't RSI or WRULD unheard of in the days of manual typewriters? Was it the physical force needed to depress the keys or just that people didn't complain as much?

I still remember with a shudder leaving the typing of my dissertation till the last possible moment, and having to type it up overnight to get to the deadline. Then with horror realising I had no Tippex left! This was 1978.
Our 1990s electric typewriter is off to the Charity Shop when it re-opens.
I was taught typing on typewriters at college in the late 80s (I must have been one of the last people to learn typing this way). By that stage we were using electric typewriters (each key stroke sounded like a gunshot), then we moved onto more sophisticated models where you typed an entire sentance on a thin LCD display before pressing 'return' to print (key strokes sounded like a machine gun). After that it was onto word processing on IBM PCs using Wordstar.

TridentScan | Privacy Policy