Anybody Remember Typewriters?

IBM Selectric Typewriter
My 27 year-old daughter and I had a ball laughing at how my generation had to use manual typewriters for our high school and college term papers. I thrilled her with stories of hundreds of balled up papers tossed on the floor near the trashcan. These papers boasted mistakes, lumpy whited-out corrections, and strikeovers warranting me to have to start all over again. I described all-night typing sessions, pumped up on “No Doze”, while I slaved over a paper that was due the next morning.

Typewriters were many and varied then, and some were very poorly made. The best ones were made by Remington, Royal, and Corona, but the most coveted was the IBM Selectric. The Selectric was the smooth sounding, roller balled, electric carriaged baby that we all lusted over. You could set the margins and spacing, and the typewriter would return electronically to the next line.

Basic typing tools were White Out, correction tape, and carbon paper which we inserted between the sheets of typing paper if we needed to make more than one copy. However, there could be no more than 2 sheets of carbon paper or else the copies would be too light. If you made a mistake you’d have to remove all of the copies, as well as the carbon paper, correct the word on all three copies and then try to re-roll the papers to the exact position so that the rest of the line was uniform.

And that was just the typing!

Editing was another matter. There was no cut and paste. No moving a line to another section for creativity’s sake. If you hadn’t structured the text on your handwritten, rough-draft before you typed it, then you were stuck with what was on the paper.

Some of the typewriters that came later were quieter, faster, and had a more streamlined appearance. They also offered a couple more font choices as far as point sizes, but that was about all the variation the typewriter allowed. You could choose to highlight something important by raising the ribbon to the red level, and then that word or phrase would show as red on your paper. WOW!

It’s amazing that so much time has passed since I suffered the agony of a typewriter. In typing this paper today, I made so many mistakes, but many words were automatically corrected without me even knowing it. I chose to delete whole sentences and move them to new paragraphs and the only tool I’ve needed all morning was one single keyboard.

Truly, youth is wasted on the young. They take for granted the joy and ease the computer has brought to our lives. They don’t even know that we (baby boomers) invented computers! Soon we’ll discuss the revolution that Google caused. Anybody remember encyclopedias?

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