Keystone Typewriter Co., Inc. Typewriters sold and serviced, typewriters, typewriter, typewriter repair, antique typewriters, typewriter ribbons, ibm selectricPosted: November 16, 2008
Before Word processors, we used mechanical analog devices that did the neat trick of simultaneously outputting letter shapes on bond paper as your struck each key.
Everything was mechanical; from the tab setting, to the upper case key, to the way you would have to reach into the machine to unjam the keys that stuck together after accidentally typing two letters simultaneously. On mechanical typewriters you had to hit the keys pretty hard, and you can tell which of us came of age in that era by the way we pound hard on keyboards today, even though force is no longer necessary.
Making columns was an adventure in measurement and you had to bring the carriage back to where you wanted to underline things for emphasis; and as you came to the end of a line of type you heard a little bell ring signaling you to swipe the "carriage return" with your left hand to begin a new line.
We had no idea what italics or bold types were. You could only type in the typeface that was built-in, which looked something like the font "Courier".
If you made a mistake, you could use "liquid paper" to cover your error and blow on it to speed up the drying; or if you were in a hurry you would just type over the offending error with "xxxxx" and keep going. One of the beauties of the process was that you could only do minimal edits as you went along so you actually got more words down.
The downside to the process was the art of "ribbon replacement" which was usually followed by a trip to the washroom.
If you were clever, you could convince the secretary of the Lit department of the urgency of your work (they were all urgent) and use her IBM Selectric typewriter. Since it used power from a wall outlet, you didn’t have to strike the keys so hard (but would anyway) and you could actually use one of several typefaces by changing a ball. And there was no carriage return lever but a key marked with an arrow exactly where the "Enter" key is in today’s keyboards. It was efficient and quite a pleasure to use, but somehow lacked the raw animal sweaty charm of banging hard on a mechanical.