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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Typewriter? What is that?

Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 12, 2006
2:44 pm

We Sun folks on the internal Phoenix office mailing list received this email from our admin this morning:

“Hi all. I was asked to put out a poll to the office concerning the typewriter. Please give me your opinion on either removing it from the office or do you think it is needed?”

Typewriter? I didn’t realize we still had one.

My colleague Mark Mulligan responded:

“If you keep it in the lobby, you need to create a placard with the date the thing was manufactured, the era it was used, who invented it, etc. Then also place similar items next to it with corresponding placards: an abacus, wheel, flint stone, etc.”

“I am also very big on dioramas–maybe a shoebox depicting a1950’s nuclear houshold getting their first typewriter.”

This reminded me of an event, many years ago. My oldest son was six years old when he saw a typewriter for the first time and said, “What is that?”

I explained, “It’s something like your computer …”

At that moment, I realized that the typewriter/computer paradigm had completely reversed. When I was young, a computer teletypewriter was explained to me as being “like a typewriter …”

Perspective certainly changes with time.

Now, does anyone want to discuss how my old slide rule is “something like your calculator …?”

Oh! I got a response from that, too:

“Ah, but the slide rule is much more versatile than a calculator, being able to solve complex computations with only 2 moving parts! Unfortunately requires practice and skill being analog rather than digital.”

Thanks, Timothy McFadden, for rembering the elegance of the venerable slip stick.

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