ANOTHER week, another piece of technology consigned to the bin.
This time the humble typewriter appears to have bitten the dust and strung itself up with its own ribbon – if you don’t mind a mixed metaphor.
Producer Brother says the last UK-made typewriter rolled off a production line this week and was sent straight to London’s Science Museum.
My memories of the typewriter are more leisure-related than work.
I remember we had one at home and enjoyed pretending to touch type while actually not doing very much.
Perfect preparation for a career in journalism, I hear you sneer!
As a child at the time I remember the good old push you had to give the keys to get that metal arm to fling up and imprint the letter on whatever piece of important post/scrap paper you were working on at the time.
There can be few more delightful sounds than someone typing and that deliberate ‘thunk thunk’ as the letters made their way onto the page.
That rhythm is only enhanced by the ‘bing’ as you return the carriage to its starting position.
It must have been the background music to millions of careers in offices in the UK and around the world for decades – including the Examiner.
Colleagues tell me about using the typewriter and the arcane ritual of placing two sheets of A5 with a piece of carbon paper onto the roller secured with a guard.
You could type two paragraphs of copy onto it and then handed one copy to the chief reporter who made some crossings out and then told you where you were going wrong.
The second went onto a spike (handily placed at eye height for ocular high-jinks/blindings).
It turns out some of my colleagues of a certain vintage got to take their typewriters home with them when the company decided computerisation was the way forward.
Our arts tsarina Val Javin still stores hers in a garage – but it sounds like she’s not entirely sad to see them phased out.
As a young would-be reporter it turns out Val would have to use both hands to lug the Olympia machine (complete with case) to the train station.
Due to all that lugging Val’s arms are so long she can tie her shoes without bending over.
If she opened the case in error the machine tumbled out and needed three people to reinstall it.
She had black fingers due to fiddling with the ribbon which would be doing it’s best to avoid the metal arms and leave the paper blank.
And the best of all of this is Val’s typewriter was a portable one!
Today we’ve got the iPad which is as slim as a supermodel who’s decided size zero makes her look ‘hippy’ and on the other side we’ve got Val’s Olympia with a cast-iron base to keep it steady.
Yes cast iron – the ideal substance for making the light, flexible portable edition.
Maybe sometimes progress isn’t such a bad thing!