The Age of the Typewriter…


I have several ideas for posts swirling around in my head, but I can’t proceed without revisiting a topic that came up recently–old typewriters.

In yesterday’s “About Me Quiz” I asked the question, “Have you ever typed on a manual (non-electric) typewriter?”  I don’t know where I got the idea for this question, but I sure enjoyed some of the comments I received!

One of my favorite replies was from jose2shoes :  Typing class back in the dinosaur days was all on manual typewriters and that’s how I learned. Then came electric IBM typewriters and we really thought we were in Heaven. Now it’s hard to type a sentence without spelling errors, we’ve become so spoiled by our ability to spell check and correct on-screen! Makes life a lot simpler in the office though. I remember typing long legal documents in the old days that couldn’t have any errors and had carbon copies… ugh!!

Jose2shoes’ comment brought back a few typing memories of my own:

My earliest memory of a typewriter is from somewhere in mid-childhood. Someone,  I believe it was my brother’s wife, had a manual typewriter, but the keys on it were covered.  I remember trying to type on the machine, and being both fascinated and  frustrated by it.  I couldn’t understand why anyone would have the keys to their typewriter covered up! (I learned it was a “requirement”.)

Fast forward a few years, to 1970.  By then, I was taking Typing 1 in high school.  Electric typewriters had made their appearance, and typing was a lot easier.  I could never burn up the keys like some of the girls in my class, but I took great pride in making very few errors!  (I guess my strive for perfection was manifesting itself even back then.)  I always looked forward to typing class very much, unlike most of my other classes!  

Here’s the one and only photo I have of me, along with two of my girlfriends, during our Typing 2 class.  I’m the one in the middle, posing for the photo.

3-6-2011 6;35;58 PM Fun times 19717

As I look at this photo, I remember several things- (1) Holly, the girl to my far left, was a fast typist!  She and I share the same birthday, and became friends in elementary school.  (2) Linda, the girl on my right, lived down the street from me, while we were growing up, and caught my bouquet when Ed and I got married.  (3) Notice how the windows are open in the photo?  That’s because the schools weren’t air conditioned back then!

Now back to my story-

While some fortunate people owned their own portable typewriters, back then, I was not one of the lucky ones.  I remember having to find someone to loan me a typewriter to type my English IV term paper on.  I sat at mama’s dining room table and typed every miserable page of that paper.  I also remember using “correct type” to fix my mistakes!  Believe it or not, I still remember the topic of my term paper, a subject near and dear to my heart, at the time–“An All Volunteer Army, Will It Work?”.  (The draft was still in effect at the time.)

My typing skills, learned during high school, finally helped me earn an income in the mid-seventies.  I got a job working as a “file clerk/receptionist” in the radiology department of a large hospital.  By then, I had been married to Ed for a couple of years.  He’d been working in radiology (in the same hospital), as a technologist, for those two years.  We actually rode to work together, and were able to eat lunch together on most days.

I spent the next three years typing “flash cards” (used to put the patients name and information on the corner of their x-ray films), then typing and filing index cards, with a record of each patient’s exams listed on them.  By the time I left, we were moving into the age using computers instead of typewriters and filing cabinets.

Back in the seventies, I never dreamed that one day I’d be sitting on the couch typing for something called “a blog” on a machine known as “a laptop”.  I never dreamed of  “spell check” or “cut and paste”–and certainly not the internet!  I can’t help but wonder how things will be when our children are my age!  I guess only time will tell…and I’ll most likely never know.

Do you have any memories of manual typewriters–or even the first electric ones?  If so, please share!

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 10:11 am  Comments (4)  
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