Keyboard Nostalgia?

If I were to mention Royal, you’d probably immediately think of a wedding. Here in West Virginia, if I were to mention Remington, the first thought would probably be shotguns. However, I’m talking about typewriters – for those of you who remember these now ancient machines. In their day, typewriters were the bee’s knees of technology. The steno pool morphed into the typing pool, and this mechanical marvel ruled the world of written communications for decades. I was even forced to take a typing course in high school, although I suspect it was as much about my handwriting as it was about course requirements. Nowadays if you want extra copies of a document, you just hit the print button. In the typewriter era, you rolled in multiple sheets of paper separated by sheets of carbon paper. Need lots of copies? Until the advent of the electric typewriter, you had to hit the keys harder. With the electric typewriter, you could adjust for the number of pages. I started out my career in a newsroom surrounded by the constant clacking of typewriter keys and the tap-tapping of the AP wire machine. I even coined a term for the noise: “clackcophonyâ€. Those were the days of strikeouts and cut-and-paste as copy got pieced together for typesetting. When the newsroom got its first computer terminals, the silence was disconcerting. Thank heavens for the AP wire with its familiar sound and occasional dinging bell announcing important news. (Four bells would almost always draw reporters and editors to the AP wire like moths to a flame.) Even as word processors and computers gained ground, typewriters continued to hang on. The IBM Selectric with its round ball and correction tape was still around when I first went to work for QP. In fact, for years we did the Update section in typewriter font, even after we had become computerized. For some reason we thought it made that section look more immediate, as if it was cranked out right on the printing plate the way typewriters used to image stencil duplicators. Well, the last typewriter maker bit the dust recently. I felt a whiff of nostalgia, but not much more. Frankly, I had never liked the damned things. And I didn’t like the smell of Whiteout, either.

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