Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, April 28, 2011

the end of typewriting

Now that the making of typewriters has come to an end, nostalgia is setting in. I am not wholly immune to it. I still have warm memories of the Smith-Corona Slient I used throughout college and most of graduate school — in fact, it’s safely stored in my basement, in its original case. I used it happily, looking with scorn on those who had moved to electric machines, until it was time for me to write a dissertation, at which point I made a clear-eyted assessment of the work involved, took out a loan, and bought the original Macintosh.

But I’m not feeling the nostalgia as much as I might have expected, I think because, if I’m going to go old-school, I might as well go all the way and return to pen and notebook. Perhaps it’s life with an iPad that has weakened my affection, but I keep thinking that a typewriter ties me to one place, like a desktop computer — I can’t exactly bring it to the local coffee shop and start banging away. (Though I wonder what would happen if I did. . . .) It’s true that I could type something out, scan it to PDF, and use OCR software to turn it to digital text, whereas it’s unlikely that any OCR program will ever be able to read my handwriting; but that options isn't enough to sway me. If I’m going to be a hipster manqué, I’ll do it with a Moleskine rather than the old Smith-Corona.

So I’m accepting offers for the typewriter on which I wrote so much. I’d part with it — not without a tear, I suspect — for the right price.

P.S. It seems the making of typewriters has not come to an end.


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