December 25, 2011

"People treasure old, weird typewriters. But you throw out a computer..."

"... and it’s gone. It’s sitting in a pile of toxic rubble in India."


ken in tx said...

I still have my Commodore 128 and a Magnavox Pong game.

edutcher said...

Considering a typewriter was so much more portable than the old desktop machines, it's a wonder word processing took hold as quickly as it did.

PS "the first mainstream authors to trade in their typewriters for WordStar and WordPerfect".

Ahhh, life before MS Office.

The good old days.

Focko Smitherman said...

I've got five typewriters from the 30s and 40s in my office. They are not weird, they are elegant. They all work, too.

Desktop computers are not elegant; they don't last 70 years in perfect working order, either.

wv: enest. Reminds me of a Tom Swiftie someone told here long ago: "I am not a homosexual necrophiliac," Tom said in dead earnest.

rhhardin said...

They wind up in a landfill in Ohio around here pics

Known Unknown said...

Fifty years from now, hipsters of the era will have ironic iMacs on their shelves.

Although, one could argue the current iMac is indeed elegant.

Wince said...

I was fascinated when Althouse posted that American Masters video on Woody Allen.

Woody Allen's Typewriter

Allen still does all his writing on the same tiny typewriter he has owned since he was 16 — a German-made Olympia portable that he purchased for $40 in 1952. He’s written all his movies on it, all his plays, and all his New Yorker pieces. The typewriter is missing its top, so you can see those primitive reel-to-reel ink cartridges, but, according to Allen, it “still works like a tank.” Of course, this means that when he’s re-writing, he has to literally cut and paste pieces of paper together. But hey, his system ain’t broke, so why fix it? Looking at that small, boxy relic of a typewriter (it’s nestled on a desk amid the tasteful coziness of the writing room in his Upper East Side brownstone), and listening to Allen talk about it with such sheepish devotion, one can see how much of him it embodies: his obsession with the past — old movies, old music, old ways of being; his stubbornly skeptical view of technology; even, in a funny way, his fear of mortality, since the guy who sold the typewriter to the young Allen Konigsberg assured him that it would still be working after his death.

MarkW said...

I actually haven't thrown away my old computers -- they don't take up much room in the attic, and they're actually kind of time capsules. As far as I know, they all still work. The first laptop I ever owned (18 years old now) is up on the shelf. I just pulled it down and it booted right up.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"the first mainstream authors to trade in their typewriters for WordStar and WordPerfect".


The first word processor program that I used. DOS based.

The advantage that typewriters have over computers is that there is no software (unless you want to count the inked ribbons) to become obsolete.

Word processors were a giant leap forward for writers. You can rearrange the words, eliminate the words, edit the copy all without having ever put the thoughts to ink and paper.

HUGE HUGE time saver for writers and for us not so good typists and spellers :-)

Kirk Parker said...

Ummm... Electric Pencil? Released at least 2 years before WordStar.

Really, we need Jerry Pournelle to weigh in on the subject.

wv: culti - oh, so now we know who writes all the verification "words"... Hi, Crack!!! :-)

Peter said...

"the first mainstream authors to trade in their typewriters for WordStar and WordPerfect".


OK, but let's not forget troff.

And, what's old is still new: you can download a troff clone from GNU ( )

Kirk Parker said...


Let's do forget troff because it's not a Word Processor.

Douglas2 said...

I took to university the same Underwood portable that my mother had used at university and her father before that. I was very popular when there were power-failures late in term.

When I bought my first computer I made the assumption that I would likewise benefit from its usefulness for decades. Silly me.