QotD: type right

  • QotD: have you ever used a typewriter?
    Yes, and I had used one on and off till a few years ago. I began with Dad’s Underwood 18, a very simple, portable typewriter that we brought over from Hong Kong. I learned to type on it. In the 1980s, with Dad’s business doing well, we bought a Brother AX-15, an electric typewriter, that had a much nicer print. We even had an italic daisywheel so I could change type mid-sentence for emphasis. You could do a half-backspace so it was possible to make some interesting characters, and raise the line by a half, too (which I used for making en dashes, typing a raised underscore). I still used that Brother for envelopes in the last few years because it was quicker to do it there than to reload a computer printer, change the paper source, and risk the envelope jamming in the machine.
       There’s a lot to be said for composing your thoughts before you typed and focusing on accuracy, though the Brother did have lift-off tape for mistakes.
       The best one to type on was the IBM Selectric. Those were marvellous machines and I worked on one in my first high school. No lift-off tape, but the keyboard was incredibly responsive and it made the noise of a proper office, or at least what we once associated with one. Like the newsroom in Lou Grant.


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