What’s a typewriter, you say? It’s hard to believe we’re living in an age where that concept is foreign to so many. When I started out writing and in school, I used to burn out ribbons regularly on my Mom’s old IBM Select. I loved its R2-D2 like letter ball that spun and imprinted as you pressed the hammer and they key went to work.
Have you ever heard of the QWERTY keyboard? What about the SHIFT key? ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS? That came from typewriters. Double spacing at the end of sentences is falling out of fashion for some, but that came from typewriters as did underlining to indicate italics and straight quotes instead of smart quotes.
So you may not remember much about them but their influence is still widely felt. And many who do remember have a nostalgic fondness for the machines. Author Mary Robinette Kowal, for example, has a collection and has often redesigned her laptop to resemble a steampunk typewriter of sorts. And typewriters regularly show up in collections at museums, art galleries, and even bookstores. Our local Kansas City independent, Prospero’s, has one on the street outside, nailed to a table, as a reminder of where so much began.
Along with their practical purposes and influence on typesetting, printing, writing, publishing and education, typewriters also influence engineering and design. Gizmodo recently presented images of The 10 Of History’s Most Beautiful Typewriters with varied entries from scifi and artistic to purely practical models. The descriptions are insightful.
What are some of your favorite memories of these machines?
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s science fiction, fantasy and humor books, short stories and articles. A frequent contributor to blogs like SFSignal, Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and To Be Read, he also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat under the hashtag #sffwrtcht on Twitter and blogs about writing and creativity on his own blog at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net/blog. Connect With Bryan On Google+