They still teach typing in high school. A, S, D, F, J, K, L ; … the “home keys.” I think the term, QWERTY keyboard, is new though. Actually, today’s high school kids are really learning how to use Microsoft’s “Word” program, not how to type. They “cut and paste,” change fonts, check spelling and grammar. Are they really learning how to type? What would our typing teachers have thought if they knew their machines would be almost obsolete in less than fifty years?
The typewriter was invented in the 1860s to be used extensively in offices and homes. Manufacturers included Remington, IBM, Oliver, Olivetti, Royal, Imperial, Smith Corona, Underwood and others.
Other than adding electric models, very little changed regarding typewriters until IBM brought its innovative Selectric model to the marketplace in the early 1960s. That model, which dominated office typewriters for two decades, replaced type bars with a spherical mechanical ball. In today’s dollars, those models cost $3,000.
In about 1972, I spent a relative fortune to buy the much cheaper Smith-Corona electric typewriter. It came with interchangeable ribbon cartridges that were fabric, film, erasing, and even colored. I think I used the erasing cartridge most often. It was marvelous unless I was also using dreaded carbon paper to make additional copies. For you youngsters, that’s because we didn’t yet have copiers. But we did have, and used, lots of soap to clean our hands from carbon paper smudges.
In the 1970s, word processors arrived and that definitely was the harbinger of the typewriter’s demise. You can still find typewriters available for purchase, but the only place in the world where they’re still in significant use is in India.
Please click here to see a cute seven-minute video clip of today’s youth being introduced to yesterday’s typewriters.
Also, add your comments about your typewriter memories, and share this with your Facebook friends. And if you’re interested in lots of memories about other things baby boomers experienced, Baby Boomer Reflections is now available in print, and it will be available for Kindle download (preorders being accepted) on May 25th.