Anybody Remember Typewriters?

IBM Selectric Typewriter

Reprinted from, L. Mims

My 27 year-old daughter had a great time laughing at how my generation had to rely on manual typewriters to write our high school and college term papers. I regaled her with stories of dozens of balled up papers surrounding the trashcan. These papers boasted mistakes, lumpy whited-out corrections and strike overs that warranted me to start all over again. I described all-night typing sessions pumped up on No Doze, while I slaved toward a looming deadline.

Typewriters were varied and many, but some were poorly made. The best ones were sold by Remington, Royal, and Corona. However the most coveted was the IBM Selectric.

The Selectric was the quiet, roller balled, electric “baby” that we all lusted over. One could automatically set the margins and spacing, and the typewriter carriage would return electronically to the next line.

Basic typing tools were White Out, correction tape, and carbon paper which I inserted between the sheets of typing paper if I needed to make more than one copy.

There could be no more than 2 sheets of carbon paper or the third copy of the paper would be too light. If I misspelled a word, or typed the same word twice, I’d remove all of the copies and 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 level.

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 I hadn’t structured the text on my handwritten rough-draft before I typed it, then I was stuck with what was on the paper.

Some of the typewriters that came later were quieter, faster, and had a more streamlined appearance. A few offered a font choice as far as a couple of point sizes, but that was about all the variation the typewriter allowed.

We 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 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.

Young people take for granted the ease that computers have brought to their lives. What’s funny is that they love to make fun when my generation is slow to pick up on modifications in technology. They don’t even know that we (baby boomers) invented computers!

One day we’ll discuss the revolution that Google caused. Anybody remember Encyclopedias?

Posted by

Educator, Author, Blogger, and supporter of Independent Writers. One mystery novel, The Neon Houses, Find me on Twitter @boom_lyn.

3 thoughts on “Anybody Remember Typewriters?

Leave a Reply