Thursday, March 24th, 2011

What’s a Typewriter?


“A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed per keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the pieces of cast metal type (called sorts) used in movable type letterpress printing. From their invention in 1870 through much of the 20th century, typewriters were indispensable tools for many authors and businessmen. By the end of the 1980s, however, word processors and personal computers largely displaced typewriters in the settings where they previously had been ubiquitous in the western world. Nonetheless, typewriters remain in use in various areas of the world.” –  Wikipedia

The other day on Facebook, a friend mentioned her daughter had asked her, ” What’s a typewriter?” I hear things like that and I get a little melancholy for the “good old” days back in the 1970’s.  Don’t remember the 70’s? Viet Nam, gas lines, Studio 54 – they were far from simple times but when you are young, things feel easy because you aren’t yet plagued with adult responsibilities.

When I was very small,  my Mom had a portable typewriter she’d drag out to write the occasional letter to the editor of our local paper. It lived in a blue case and had a handle so you could drag it on the bus and then carry it around town. I so very much wanted to play with it but as she would often remind me, “It isn’t a toy.” Oh how those words would infuriate me. Didn’t she know that she had a baby blogger on her hands? (Imagine trying to wrap your head around the concept of blogging in 1978.) By the time she had lost interest in using her typewriter, I did too. It wasn’t until the early 90’s that the writing bug bit me and I bought a super expensive electric Canon typewriter to which I had a heck of a time finding replacement ribbons. I think I sold it at a yard sale for $20.

Now as I peck away at the keyboard on my laptop, I try and imagine if in 30 years we will still be typing on a keyboard at all, or it we will simply have to think about what we want to say and it appears on an imaging device in front of us via a chip implanted in the back of our necks.

For a nostalgic treat, there are super cool blogs like Strikethru and Clickthing who write their blog posts with a typewriter.  A special thank you to Agent Obsolete on Etsy who sells the most amazing vintage office supplies like the typewriter above.

12 thoughts on “What’s a Typewriter?

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


A modern notebook since 1934

Buy Rhodia