Have you ever used a typewriter? Did you learn keyboarding on one? What’s your favorite outdated tool?
I have a very long history with typing. It started about the same time I was learning cursive. Typing was fast, cursive was pretty.
I still don’t know which I prefer.
My very first typewriter was ancient. It didn’t have a 1 key, one used the lower case L for that purpose, so that should tell you something. It came in a box that one laid down and opened and voila! Typewriter.
I can’t remember ages for this specifically but it was sometime after I was 9 and before I was 12. I think. I don’t remember still using this kind when I went into high school, which is where I had my next experience with a proper typewriter.
Oo, I member typewriters! Member the ribbon?
Oh, I member the ribbon! Member Chewbacca?
Member berries will be the death of us all, South Park. Ohhhhh, I get it! Sorry, I’ll find my own way out.
The first one, the one that came in the box, was easy to type on, I thought. Now that I’ve tried modern keyboards in comparison, I would probably jump off of a ledge if forced to decide between handwritten and old school typed manuscripts. There was no backspace, no whiteout. What you typed was what you got.
The keys were harder to press than I want to admit.
One of the last time I took an alpha-numeric speed typing test, I was well over 150 words per minute. You’d already know this if you had ever sat next to me at a coffeeshop or something while I worked. That would have been impossible on that first typewriter.
In high school, I went through this phase. I didn’t want to eat lunch with everyone else. I felt awkward and, for a while there, I didn’t have anyone I liked to chat with. There was a side room in the library that held rows and rows of typewriters. Some of them were even electric!
It was like walking into heaven without getting ID’ed at the gates, but at school.
I skipped every lunch for most of two years by going to the library and simply practicing. I fell in love with the clicking of the keyboards and the weird pause before the machine decided that line was done and would zip it off quick as anything.
There was this nifty backspace function. On the crappy LED screen one could determine if they had made errors and ACTUALLY FIX THEM! It was an epiphany.
We got our first computer at home right around this time, or first real one I should say. The Tandy we connected to our television wayyyy back in the day does not count. One of the only programs we had for the first official one was a typing class/test.
If you didn’t know, this is one of the original Tandy’s from the 1980s. All we could really do is design primary color lines that went up and down or across the screen. It connected to our television, though eventually they came out with their own monitors. There’s a reason you don’t hear about Tandy anymore.
I used to do those typing tests over and over in the evenings. If I tried, I could probably close my eyes and type out several of the exercises, including one about the very first jockey and the, oh hell, was it Swiss flag? My memory fades.
Speed became very important to me. I could never keep up with my thoughts when I was taking handwritten notes. It was … a difficult time to be alive. I created my own shorthand and was able to forget it once computers and electric typewriters were around.
I should hunt down an online test and see what my current speed is. The keyboard on my MacBook is pretty damn impressive and I don’t miss keys very often so my accuracy would be up a few percentage points. And there’s no auto-correct which helps immensely …
So, that answers the first two questions. Regarding outdated tools: I don’t really have a favored outdated tool. The closest I suppose I could come is pen and paper.
We’re an advanced civilization and that’s something we embrace in this household. Sure, we have a few old computer bits laying around, but we don’t actually use them. The last time I booted up an old laptop, I aged dramatically while waiting for the start screen. I retrieved my manuscripts from its hard drive and we retired that poor, poor laptop.
Well, my friends? When is the last time you chose paper and pen over the notes app on your phone?
I worry kids aren’t going to know how to actually write things down someday and then, when Skynet inevitably occurs and we kill off all technology simply to survive, what the heck are they going to do? Hieroglyphs that look like emojis?