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June 8, 2004 6:02 AM   Subscribe

A history of the IBM Typewriter. When in high school (ca. 1993), a room full of these was replaced with a room full of 286s.
posted by pieoverdone (12 comments total)

 
Do they still have typing classes in schools?

and I loved those little font balls.

We had a Smith-Corona with the ink/erasing cartridge thing at home--not as fun as the IBMs.
posted by amberglow at 6:12 AM on June 8, 2004


Do they still have typing classes in schools?

If they don't, they should. Not only for the keyboarding skills, but also so kids can learn how to properly set up a letter, a term paper, and other documents. I've been typing since I was 12 (my mom covered her typewriter's keys with adhesive tape and had me learn one summer when I was bored), and since by now it comes as second nature, it always surprises me to watch someone working on a computer and actually hunting and pecking with two index fingers.

I remember the first Selectrics, and how cool they were compared to the old type with the moving carriage. Remember using correction tape and Liquid Paper before the self-correcting models came out? And I hated the IBM Executive, where you had to backspace according to the width of the individual character. The company where I worked was pretty conservative, so we never had the screaming red or electric blue typewriters, just the olive drab and "putty" varieties.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:58 AM on June 8, 2004


I had typing lessons in school a couple of years ago. They were useless. The best way to learn to type is to use computers excessively. Although I don't touchtype "properly", I can type as fast as regular touchtyper.

Anyway, back on topic - what is the point in an electric typewriter? Not having to push it back or wind it on? Or is there more?
posted by Orange Goblin at 7:33 AM on June 8, 2004


There is still nothing as sublime and satisfying as typing a page of anything, a letter, a story, the word fuck 800 times, a to-do list, anything, on one of those eighteen hundred pound Selectrics.

It might be simply that that was what I learned to type on, but the hum, the smell of the ribbon, the way the ball dances across the page... when I think of capital-W Writing, I think of it being done on one of those behemoths.

I'd use mine more, but I have neighbors. Those sumbitches was loud. But if they could hook one of them up to the net, by god I'd starve to death at the typer, but I'd be able to crush coal into diamonds with my fingers.
posted by chicobangs at 8:11 AM on June 8, 2004 [1 favorite]


anyway , back topic - what is the point in an electric typewriter? not having to push it back or wind it or is there more?

Manual typewriters are slower and require vastly more finger strength to use. chicobangs coal crushing statement isn't far from the truth.

If you yearn for the feel of a seletric type writer while using your computer try to dig up a model M IBM keyboard. It's the kind that masses a kilo or so and makes the load clicking noises. And it's basis of operation is the buckling spring key developed for the Selectric.
posted by Mitheral at 8:24 AM on June 8, 2004


Unicomp stocks a keyboard nearly identical to the original IBM Model M keyboard. (Be sure to order yours with the buckling-spring mechanism instead of quiet-touch!). They even have them in black to match your old-scool typing skills with your new-school computer. Classic and indestructible.
posted by SteelyDuran at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2004


Note my new-school typo skills. No doubt future employers will do a quick internet search, find my metafilter postings, and discard my resume because of this. "Imperfect! No proofreading skills! The damn button was right there and everything!" {sound of crushed paper hitting heavy, 1950s-style waste can} "Next!"
posted by SteelyDuran at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2004


I learned to type on a manual typewriter but our school had the budget for 3 new Selectrics. In typing class we'd all take turns on the electric machines. I couldn't stand 'em; always repppeatinggg letters because my brain was hardwired on typing like Beethoven. I traded a semester's worth of time on the Selectrics for a 'go to lunch early' pass.

Gimme a clicky Model M or Apple Extended Keyboard II and let me pound away.
posted by Tacodog at 10:28 AM on June 8, 2004


I still have two IBM typewriters in the basement.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:37 AM on June 8, 2004


There's something about the Selectric, the light touch of the keys perhaps, but I could type 90wpm on one of those beauties.

They were works of art and I would love to have a 'puter keyboard as responsive and sensitive as my old IBM.

As you can guess, I love 'em.


posted by essexjan at 2:06 PM on June 9, 2004


One summer when I was in college, I had a job running errands in a secretarial pool. My primary job was to fetch elements (the "type heads") for the Selectric typewriters. The specialized elements were expensive, so they had only a few of them which were shared among the typists in the pool. When one of them needed Orator or whatever, they'd call me and I'd bring them the desired element.

Now some of these secretaries were pretty cute, about my age, and unattached, so I would sometimes ask one out. However, I never was able to get anywhere with them. This puzzled me until one of the older ladies took me aside and explained that although some of them thought I was cute, they would never consent to go out with me, for I was... Taboo, the Element Boy!
posted by kindall at 2:15 PM on June 9, 2004 [1 favorite]


(BTW, props for the above shaggy-dog story go to David R. Palmer's sci-fi novel Emergence.)
posted by kindall at 2:19 PM on June 9, 2004


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