Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Does anyone remember typing? I took typing in high school. Do they still teach that? It probably comes right before Latin and after Home Economics. Maybe not. Hell, I understand they don’t even teach longhand anymore. How about that? Longhand? Longhand became script, which became cursive, which became extinct. I’m so friggin old that I refer to an extinct writing technique three generations before its demise.
I learned to type on a manual machine. Why did they put the “a” so flipping far away? I had to whack that thing with my pinky, the weakest of all fingers. All my “a’s” were two shades lighter than the rest of my letters.
At home we had an old Remington from the 1930’s. The keys used to stick together if you hit them too rapidly: clack…clack…clackclack…”Fuck.” You had to stop and flick those letters back manually. Usually happened with “the” damn I could type “the” fast.
Typing 60 words a minute was the standard of excellence. I got up to 40 not counting errors. They took away 5 words for errors. Counting errors I typed about -12 words a minute.
My mom could type about 65 a minute counting errors which she made none. That was on the old Remington. A real typist did not make errors in those days. If you made an error, erasures looked crappy, and white-out was still a snow storm. Even white-out was not acceptable for a formal letter. And don’t even get me started on carbon copies. If you made one mistake you actually made three errors when you were using carbon copies.
By the way young people, that is what the cc stands for when you cc someone.
Then there was the ink ribbon. My mom couldn’t change the film in a camera, but she could change a typewriter ribbon in minutes and never even smudge her hand.
I remember when my pops brought home an IBM Selectric he got from work. Damn that thing could fly, and no locked up keys, the letters were all on one ball. You could change the ball and type with a different font…Imagine that! Mom did not like that typewriter. She preferred the old Remington. I think she felt the IBM was cheating; it diminished the value of her skill.
Mom could “carriage return line feed” like you would not believe. It was a thing of beauty. Left hand up, flick of the wrist, and back down into perfect QWERTY position without losing any of that clack…clack rhythm. The IBM took a single electric key touch to create the same effect. Mom preferred the wrist flick…“That new return thing throws my timing all off!”
The typing skill was so marginalized by IBM electrics, white-out, and finally computers that can simply back up and retype or even auto correct that it is now completely gone the way of longhand. They even took away the keyboard clack.
Early computers made the keys clack. I think all the really good typists needed the clack to find their rhythm. When the typists became obsolete, they took the clack away.
Why am I writing about all this?
I don’t know.
Why did you read it?