October 19, 2009

The Ancient Word Processor.

When I was collecting supplies in our stock room located in the basement of my workplace the other day, I stumbled upon an array of discarded items stacked on a table in the corridor. Someone was obviously cleaning out their offices and left some of the old, unused objects outside. What caught my eye was an old typewriter.

Upon closer inspection I realized that this was a "step up" technology and would be classified as IBM Selectric typewriter, occasionally known as the IBM Golfball typewriter. It was an electric typewriter first introduced in 1961, but I believe the one featured here must have been a more modern type.

I have fond memories of these grand old machines. My grandmother was proficient at using one and I recall taking typewriting classes in school as teenager. I bet they do not run those anymore. Those typewriters were electric as well and we even had tests and were graded on the speed with which we typed and the typos we made. I used to do quiet well and could type with all the fingers of my hands and without looking at the keyboard. Or the character board, if you will. Today all this skill has gone lost. I type with one finger of each hand, looking somewhat ridiculous and I have to look at the keyboard of my laptop at all times. And I make typos in pretty much all words.

I used to keep an old, small, red and black manual typewriter in my first, tiny apartment as well. I honestly do not know where it was from, but I believe it to have belonged to my parents. It was a small but a more sturdy machine than the electric one and I had to use a bit more force to strike the keys, making my typing to be of the angry kind. It was a frustrating process as I hated making mistakes. I recall the endless retyping of documents and lots of vocal exclamation while typing, as I wanted a clean sheet without any errors.
How absurd it all seems today, in the height of the computer era, when any mistakes can be deleted with a key stroke, and be gone as if they never existed at all. Additionally, the software suggests words and even checks spelling mistakes. In multitude of languages.
Times has certainly changed in just a few decades.

In any case, this dear old, almost ancient typewriter of mine is by now long gone. I have no idea what happened to it actually, but to this day it is linked to sentimental memories of mine. I recall the absolutely last time I used it in the spring of 91, to type my first resume and my application for the position that I later obtained at Duke University in the US.
I never used a typewriter again or since.


Hilary said...

Just think about how many excellent typists have never seen, much less used a typewriter. They sure have evolved rapidly.

Brian Miller said...

i still remember typing class in school and the correction ribbons...backspace, insert, delete, i love these modern conveniences.

steviewren said...

I took typing in high school and was dismal at it. I could never type very fast, but I didn't make many mistakes. When I went to college in my mid 40s I realized that I needed to revive my practically non-existent skills. I took a keyboarding class to help me relearn the finger positions and not to look at the keyboard. It has taken 10 years, but I don't look most of the time. I do use the backspace often. I probably still don't type much faster than the 30 words a minute that I did in high school. Some things never change.

Julie Hibbard said...

I see these at antique stores all the time...they are works of art as far as I am concerned!
I am blessed to have taken "typing" in high school--from Sister Georgina, who also taught 'shorthand'. (Do they teach that anymore?)
I used correction fluid and carbon paper and all that good stuff. Less than 20 years ago.
I, for one, am glad that technology has changed and helped us and made life just a little CLEANER, if nothing else!
But that old Underwood is a beauty!

MsTypo said...

I learned to type on a typewriter at school. I sucked. A lot. It wasn't until years later when i started hanging out online that i became proficient in typing. My rule about typing now is this: my name is Typo for a reason. You can have it fast or you can have it accurate - but you can't have it both ways! LOL

Unknown said...

OMG this post brings a lot of fun memories.

Back in high school, my teacher would give us lots and lots of research projects that has to be typed in of course the typewriter. And you know how much noise they make right? takatak takatak takatakatak! Wow me and my brother would always fight. So i have to do my typing on the garage. And am soooo dork that sometimes i would bring it to school. hahahah! it was so heavy but back those days i didnt seem to care.

now i wonder what happened to my typewriter. Probably my brother gave it away.

United Studies said...

Oh my gosh....typewriters! I remember using my mom's when I was little, before we got a computer, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I learned to type on it.

You are correct, though, about the mistakes! I wonder if anyone would be able to use a typewriter today, because we are all so used to being able to make a mistake and hit backspace. There would be a lot of wasted paper!

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

I wish I still had my typewriter...our high school typewriting teacher was a funny lady that always made us laugh...and it is a skill I use to this day.

Even my five year old runs the computer like a professional...they learn so early!

Keith said...

When I took typing in school back in the late 80's, we learned on a typewriter. That was definitely an experience.

Sandi McBride said...

The best Christmas present I ever received was my little portable typewriter...I passed it on to my son who still has it...his antique, he calls it. Great post about yesterday...

Holly said...

I love vintage pieces!! Especially typewriters and cameras. What a fun post.

Would you believe that my mom still types on an old typewriter. (We're talking not even electric. LOL!!)

Helen McGinn said...

I loved my old typewriter; what I loved the most was the sound it made. I still bash my keys like I'm on that old thing, despite the wrath of my entire family. Secretly, I do it so that they'll leave me alone. ;O)

Phivos Nicolaides said...

I love this kind of old stuff!!

Claus said...

When I was in Secretarial School, we learned to typewrite in a manual typewriter. It was so hard! but our teacher said that when we made the transition to an electrical one - then the "modern" thing - it would be easier. I feel so prehistoric! :-)) Today, of course, they are no longer used. There are two electrical typewriters at work, and they once tried to find cartriges for them. No luck of course. Everything has change so drasctically in a relative short period of time, wouldn't you agree?

Stacey J. Warner said...

yes, correction ribbons (thanks for the memory of it bria)...in college we still used "dittos" because photocopying cost too much. I didn't use a computer but a word processor. I'm only 39!


Betsy Brock said...

When I worked for General Motors in the 80's, I had one of those IBM golfball typewriters on my desk! They were the latest and best! ha!

Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

Oh, I loved my IBM Selectric sooooo muuuucch!!! When i quit working to have babies, my hubby got me one for a gift and I made some extra money typing term papers for college students. For awhile at work I used an old manual, and I thought it was so much fun to use, but I typed too fast and made all the keys jam up in the middle. I type really fast and enjoy it a lot, I find it very relaxing. Maybe that's why I like my NEO so much, it reminds me of the old, simple word processing typewriter, only without the paper, and it's easy to make corrections on it.

The Blonde Duck said...

So vintage! I love it!

Reading Tea Leaves said...

This post brings back memories for me too. I learned to type at secretarial college on a very basic electric typewriter and became a legal secretary in the City, progressing through IBM golfball and the first IBM word processors. Now the majority of people have a PC at home and everybody can type; things have changed immeasurably since the mid to late 1970s when I first started work. Technology is part of life now and we wonder how we could possibly manage without it. Which reminds me I really need to upgrade my PC!

Jeanne x

Unknown said...

oh my goodness, you have taken me back to high school! fabulous post Protege. have a wonderful week!!

Maria said...

I learnt to type on a manual - it was very hard work indeed!

Zuzana said...

yes, I think so much has changed just in a few decades. I believe the changes within the last twenty years are astounding.;) Always happy when you visit my dear friend.;) xo

I completely agree with you. It is almost a science fiction come true.;)

I am in awe! I have been taking classes as a teenager and have used a computer for almost twenty years by now; still my typing is terrible.;) xo

I agree with you, it is a bit cleaner today!;) And I also agree that there is certain nostalgic beauty to the old machines as well.;) xo

Aha, I found a kindred spirit! I type fast and I make typos, we must have a similar typing style.;) Always happy to see you stopping by.;) xo

glad to see that even a member of the younger generation remembers a typewriter, it warms my heart.;) xoxo

so right you are! I hated when I made mistakes and I hated to use the correction *type trough sheets*, so I often retyped everything.;) Times have really changed, right.;) xo

yes, I bet your kids are very proficient at typing.;) I only wish my typing skills have stayed with me as well. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I learned to type on a Swedish keyboard, which has nothing in common with the English one.;) xo

glad you too were once using a typewriter, perhaps it is not as ancient as one thinks.;) Always happy when you top by.;)

when I was typing away on my old little red and black one, I dreamed about typing a manuscript on it one day.;) I am so happy you enjoyed this post.;) xo

so happy to hear that your mom uses an old typewriter, I guess it is just something that she has gotten used to.;) And I like that sentiment actually.;) I always love when you stop by.;)xo

Zuzana said...

what a fun comment; you know the sound of the typewriter is very soothing to me.;) I would probably love to listen to you typing.;) Thanks you for your lovely visit.;) xo

so glad to hear that, thanks for stopping by.;)

that was a fun story. Yes, everything changes and even if the change is gradual, it feels so fast as time is so very relative.;) Your comments always make me smile.;) xo

yes, the advances in technology makes one feel suddenly very old, doesn't it.;) Who knows what kind of gizmos will be around in twenty years from now on, right?;) Always happy when you stop by.;)xo

I bet you felt proud when you used it.;) Today we feel that way about the newest computers I guess.;) xo

I am so glad I brought back fond memories for you, of times long gone.;) Ah, I remember having the keys all jammed, that was highly annoying.;)
Always so happy to have you visit.;) xo

=The Blonde Duck,
thank you, I am happy you liked this.;) And thank you for stopping by.;)

yes, I agree with every word. It is amzing how we depend on the newest gadgets these days; I do not think I can even imagine to be working, or living, without my computer, the Internet and my mobile.;)

what a lovely comment, made me smile. So glad you enjoyed and thank you for stopping by.;)

yes, wasn't it so difficult to hit the keys, with just enough strength to make a perfect letter.;) Thank you so much for your visit.;) xo

G said...

Great post! I love the sound of those old selectrics. I haven't used on in years, but it was always very satisfying to hear that clattering sound as I typed. I believe the novelist John Irving still writes all his books on an old orange selectric... at least he did till a very few years ago.

Nessa said...

There is just something about a typewriter. Like handwriting in a journal, which I still do just for the pleasure of writing.

Zuzana said...

I agree, the sound of typing is so soothing, I am not sure why.;) How interesting that some writers still use the old typewriters; it is most likely a source if inspirations as well. So glad every time you visit.;)xo

yes, some sort of nostalgia that is linked to times gone by. I too love handwritten cards and letters, even though I do not keep a journal anymore.;) Always happy when you visit.;)xo

Gal Friday said...

I am glad I caught up with this great entry of yours today!
I often miss typewriters and their "music" as the keys were tapped(or "angrily" punched in some instances..LOL) Not that I ever was much of a typist--I still have to look at the keyboard as I type today.
I always notice them with a feeling of great nostalgia in movies(like in those newspaper office scenes) and older TV shows. It doesn't even seem that long ago(but this was also in the early
90's alteady)that I used to sell all kinds of typewriter ribbons at my old office supply store job.

Gal Friday said...

Oh goodness..I just read Sandi McBride's comment about her little typewriter and it reminded me of how I loved my own "kid sized" working typewriter I had...eons ago.

Zuzana said...

glad you too share a love for this beautiful piece of history, that holds so much nostalgia.;)
I always enjoy your comments as they are so candid and full of life.;))

Keera Ann Fox said...

Ah, someone else who likes typewriters! I was actually given a children's typewriter as a gift when I was 8. I love typing. Makes me feel productive.

Zuzana said...

what a wonderful gift for a child. Do you still have it?
Hope your weekend is lovely.;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I don't know what happened to it. A lot got left behind when we moved to Norway.

Haddock said...

Oh yes. . . . . .Times has certainly changed in just a few decades.