The Death of the Typewriter


They really don’t make typewriters anymore. Really. The last factory still producing those quaint keyboards free of Internet tether closed its doors. I don’t think I am sad about this though I do wonder what we will do if an EMP event or some other apocalyptic scenario exposes the folly of throwing over the typewriter for the virtual and the chip driven.

I learned to type or keyboard as they call it now on a typewriter when I was a junior in high school. It is one of a handful of useful skills I picked up in high school because most of what I learned has not ever been put to use in my real life – ever. Sr. Deborah was the instructor, a very bland semi-dwarf who sported cat glasses, a monotone and a personality that defied both.

“Thousands of people have learned to type, and you can too.”

She repeated that phrase daily and I was never sure if she’d made it up or read it in a manual, liked it and decided it would be a good catch phrase to spur her college bound students on to maximum WPM‘s.

I was fast but my crappy spelling which my habitual transposing of letters and numbers didn’t enhance, meant that I was nowhere near the top of the class. I was aided by my seatmate, TK, class president and king of the comical aside. Today he is a lawyer with a secretary and I am a writer who has to edit my own work. Where is the justice?

But I hated typewriters even as I couldn’t help being drawn to them. Auntie has this ancient – almost a Methuselah – machine that I would sit at for an hour playing hunt/peck when I was a child. Amazed at how much better the type appeared the chicken scrawl that has always been my handwriting despite repeated torturous lessons at the hands of maniacal nuns.  Typewriters were slow and fixing errors was tedious as was rewriting and retyping, and as much as my printed word annoyed, my typing was worse.  I was ecstatic the day I first laid fingers on an Apple IIe equipped with FredWriter. Never looked back.

R.I.P typewriter. You had a good run and QWERTY still rules, imo.

4 thoughts on “The Death of the Typewriter

  1. Oh me oh me oh my! How I smiled when I read your Sr Deborah quote. I remember her saying those exact words, mini-mike in hand. Looking back, I wonder if she was heavily medicated or just beaten down by teaching a bunch of ingrate teenagers. Nevertheless, she taught me to type, quite well, and I was and still am surprised that I like to type.

    1. She was in a zone most of the time, but I am betting that everyone who took that class keyboards with all five fingers today and at an impressive rate of speed/accuracy.

      We need a reunion before we are too old to remember anything.

  2. I learned to type from a Sister Deborah, too~ and your description fits her perfectly! It was at St. Edmond’s in Fort Dodge in 1974, I believe. I graduated in 1976, and it seems to me I took typing my junior year. I think our class might have driven her crazy- maybe they sent her to Dubuque, then?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.