Opposite Keyboard comments

Illustration for article titled Opposite Keyboard comments
Photo: Me. Mine, all my doing this picture is!

If you haven’t noticed, some are called hipsters but others are just plain enthusiasts of the past. Some wish to indulge a revivalist moment for themselves in how we wrote before a backspace actually erased previous work and cutting and pasting and spellcheck were things of which to take advantage. I have no interest, however, based on one person I know.


Dad. He was a Journalist for 40+ years and a historian today. He hammered on a Royal manual like it was a Gatling gun, writing one book of history on that in the living room corner and competed with our television volume but was generous enough to mostly work during commercials. A box of computer paper reams sat at his feet so the paper coming in was never in pieces but one long endless page, later to be separated by perforations and pencil edited. When we got our first computer in 1983 (Zenith) he had to slow his typing as the computer would start beeping. It couldn’t handle his sheer volume of inputs. An upgrade a few short years later netted a turbo button alleviating the issue. The competition with the television volume was also alleviated.

I pointed out some interesting things to him the other day. A usb retrofit kit with sensors making a typewriter a computer keyboard at the same time as writing on paper, or the enthusiasm for the manuals today and the lengths people are going to experience them. Writing long projects. Tom Hanks is such a huge fan of them he writes all of his to-do and grocery lists on them. He loves them, collects them, travels with them. Has over one hundred-fifty.


Dad: “I can’t imagine why anyone would want to fight and quarrel with a typewriter. I have no interest in ever using one again.”

I understand that. All of his works after the first book were done via computer. Even super-fan Tom Hanks could only get a few pages in on a short story before giving up and returning to a computer to write that new book of his, Uncommon Type.


Dad got to keep his old office Royal when they changed over to computers. It was instrumental is his first two decades working up radio news reports every half hour. It now sits on a small table in his office loft like a trophy. A wild animal, tamed. I say that because no matter how hard he was on the poor thing he didn’t kill it; It’s not mounted above the mantle. Royal’s don’t die.

His Popeye forearms used to kill computer keyboards, even Unicomps, but today it appears Microsoft’s ergonomics boards last a long time under his arduous demands.


I see dad’s point. I have a 1935 Royal manual from my grandmother that she used in graduate school for a psychology doctorate. I get it out once in a while but it’s just a novelty. Frankly useless unless said user is getting something out of it, like a summer job dressing up and working in colonial Williamsburg like they did over two-hundred years ago.

But nobody needs a summer to learn it’s not worth the effort. Returning to the dark ages of manual effort keystrokes and correction paper, knowing how to spell things first time through, is not different and cool. Sometimes we have the newly invented modern conveniences for a reason. Not because it improves on the old way of things, but because we just had to escape the forced labor camp that was the manual typewriter.

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