Monday, November 30, 2009


I always hated typewriters. I could never type a whole sentence without an error. I love word processing software. I loved more primitive mark-up languages at first introduction -- even when the editing was line-oriented and so primitive you can no longer imagine it.

Today, for no apparent reason, I saw four articles with references to typewriters:
  • I read about the last typewriter repair man in Ann Arbor. He spends most of his time doing something else. Bigger offices still have a typewriter here or there for filling out forms, but they use them so little that there's not much work to be done on them. Parts are scarce.
  • In the New York Times, I read about an auction of writer Cormac McCarthy's Olivetti manual typewriter which came from a Knoxville, Tenn., pawnshop around 1963. He wrote: "I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not published. Including all drafts and correspondence I would put this at about five million words over a period of 50 years." Proceeds will go to the Santa Fe Institute.
  • I read that Mark Twain was the first writer ever to submit a typewritten manuscript. But I forgot where I read that.
  • And I read that some one has done the famous experiment of seeing whether monkeys will type out the works of Shakespeare. "After one month - admittedly not an 'infinite' amount of time - the monkeys had partially destroyed the machine, used it as a lavatory, and mostly typed the letter 's.'" So they probably would never have made it to Romeo and Juliet.

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