Thursday, 10 February 2011

"THERE IS NOTHING TO WRITING. ALL YOU DO IS SIT DOWN AT A TYPEWRITER AND BLEED."
ERNEST HEMMINGWAY .


We have a new friend staying at our house.
Well really a very old friend of a friend.
Here she is.


She caused quite a stir when she arrived,
"What is it, what is it" shouted two excited boys.
"Is it for me? Is it for me?"
they chorused.
So I took off the incredibly pleasing teal cover to reveal
a beautiful Smith Corona in all her vintage 18th birthday present glory.
"What does it do? What does it do?"
They chanted.
"Well is types things."
"?"
We then had an amusing ten minutes trying to explain to the boys
what a typewriter is.
"So its like a really really early computer then?" said the ginger one.
"Well no not exactly"
Which then lead to an even longer discussion about the incomprehensible fact that there was a time before computers.
"How old do you think I was when I got my first computer?" I asked.
(Please keep in mind my answer does not mean I am really really ancient, just that I don't work in an industry that uses them that much.)
He thought long and hard about it and then said
"Three?"
"No darling 28."
And to that it appears there is no answer.
The thought of home computers in 1972 got us both wondering just how big it would have had to of been.
We decided probably as big as our house and the neighbours put together.
My thoughts turned to the enormous computers that Benny Hill uses to control the traffic lights with in "The Italian Job".
It has also been quite a shock to my finger tips remembering just how
HARD you have to hammer on a typewriters keys.
Then at the weekend on a visit to one of our
favourite places I found these


Don't they look amazingly old fashioned?
Well obviously the fossils are old fashioned to the tune of several million years,
but the type written descriptions, hand cut out with a pair of scissors to give that not quite straight look, really make it look dated.
And then I saw this.


So very carefully hand drawn.
It must have taken ages to get the typing lined up so perfectly.
Some how I found these displays in a dusty not so well visited corner of the museum
so much more engaging than the big flashy displays found else where.
They seem more personal somehow.
Sometimes something simple comes in to our lives and makes us realise just how much things have changed in our life times.
I wonder if my parents felt like this when they were in their 40's, or have things changed at a faster rate between 1990 when I turned 20 and now, than they did between 1964 when they turned 20 and 1986 when they were my age.
Who knows. I'll have to ask next time I speak to either of them.

With much to ponder upon.
Love Nora xx

5 comments:

  1. Oh God I used to love my typewriter. I think it was a present when I was about 11. My fingers used to get really sore from misjudging and getting them trapped between the keys! I was always jealous of my Mum because she had an ELECTRIC typewriter at work. On the odd occasion I was allowed to go to work with her and have a go on it.....it made a fab noise! I sold my typewriter for £5 when I left home. Gutted!!!

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  2. When I was 20 (1967) there were large airconditioned rooms full of mysterious humming machines. You had to talk to a techie to get near one. Or if you were interested, you could go on a FORTRAN course and punch instructions onto a strip of paper tape that a techie would feed into the machines for you. At home I bashed on my typewriter. The boss's secretary's typewriter didn't have an erase ribbon until the late 70s. When I was 42 (1989), I had an £800 home Amstrad (thank you, Lord Sugar) with a dot-matrix printer. It chugged, loudly and slowly. It stored nothing. Its software and everything you wanted to save had to be downloaded onto 5.5" floppy (really floppy) disks before you logged off. At work a few people played with huge desk things with black screens and green winking characters. The words email and internet were unknown and no one knew they needed them.

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  3. Oh, and when I was 20, there were no calculators - or at least only heavy mechanical ones worked by turning a handle - so what with that and pounds, shillings and pence, we all need to know our tables...

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  4. There's something very wonderful about typewriters, I love, love, love them. I spend many a happy hour tippy tapping nonsense instead of doing something useful.

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  5. Hi Nora
    This is a great, thought provoking post. Back in my secondary school days, one of my friends did an O Level in Computer Studies - we all thought she was mad ! We're talking the early 1980's here ;-)
    When I was a student I taught myself to touch type one summer holiday, at the kitchen table with my sister's typewriter ... I still love typewriters and recently found 2 of them at a carboot sale - I want to get them up and running. Gosh, I remember, so well all that lining up of tabs, using carbon paper to make copies, tippex for mistakes ---- aaaah! those were the days of living S - L - O - W - L - Y :-)
    Thank you for visiting my new blog, I hope you'll pop in again and that the new place soon becomes as familiar as the old one!
    Happy days to you,
    D x

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