Back to the Future

Ahh the typewriter. A device of nostalgia but in reality is very limited.

How many publishers/agents will request a digital file?
How portable are they?
How much are they really in demand?

No, I think the typewriter has seen its final days and pretty soon will just become another collectable.

They aren’t productive enough…

Good Evening Hugh,
Your affection for the device, implicit in your post, is patently obvious, and in your case, it has probably been a true and trusty colleague and friend. And! I dare say there are certain endeavours, where a collaborative effort betwixt you both, would once more prove enjoyable, fruitful and rewarding. Whereas, if you`ll excuse me:

Any restrictions on the outpourings of certain species and individuals, can only be seen as a good thing.

Hugh, would I be correct in my vision of you sat at a table, collar and tie undone, glass of scotch on one hand; ashtray overflowing on the other, pounding away, with deadline looming :wink:
Take care

As a style exercise what if we had a portable typewriter and a computer in the same package…

We could be retro stylish and immediately have hard copy. And we could surf the web to procrastinate instead of drinking Jack Daniels in a gonzo homage.

This idea has legs.


So let me get this straight. Guano head is discussing productivity?


When you say “in one” do you envision putting a piece of paper in to the machine, as you press a character key a matching character appears on the paper and is stored simultaneously? Is that what you are saying?

Next year, my halls of residence won’t have internet access.

Just thought I’d throw that in there.

My computer has a printer with a large capacity tray.
My computer can BACK UP MY WORK safely and efficiently.
My computer can create a manuscript in both a digital form as well as paper form.
My computer’s keys are easier on the fingers.
My computer’s can type in a dark room without need of a lamp.
My computer is very portable and can be easily used in such places as coffee shops, cars, and airplanes.

But the defining difference between my laptop and a typewriter is my laptop can run Scrivener where a type writer can run black or red ink. :slight_smile:

I am picturing drunken authors pecking away at old typewriters and when they reach the end of a line they smack the carriage with such force it shoots off the typewriter and falls into the wastebasket.

They also remind of old detective stories and police stories for some reason…

They have their place in history as iconic tools of times long gone but in truth I could never give up my MBP for a typewriter on any day

Er, more or less. :wink: More scotch, less ash (I gave up the Woodies long ago, I did move on to Gitanes, but only for a while), but, yes, always always the deadline looming. I love the sound of an orchestra of typewriters, as I love the smell of hot metal and the mood round the stone as the paper goes to bed with a big but risky story. All gone now though. But some of my best friends have taken or still take the Murdoch and Harmsworth shillings and others still have worked under the shadow of CP Scott (it helps if you’re a hack to have a single owner who’s long dead :slight_smile: ).

Your last post was a powerful evocation for me, of the few years I spent as a GPO Messenger Boy, at Spring Gardens, in the heart of ManchesterIn the early 60s. Many`s the time I wandered (agog), around various Newspaper buildings. I think, the Sporting Chronicle and others on Withy Grove; Express, on Gt. Ancotes St; Manchester Guardian/Evening News, Cross St.; Mail on Deansgate; MIrror and People. Thomsons on Chaple St Salford.

Incredibly atmospheric environment as you say :smiley:
Ah well, c`est la vie :wink:
Take care

Ah Withy Grove! Evocative names and places - I’ve been in one or two of those you mention, Vic, but not all.

In Waterstones yesterday I noticed a table laid out with Sebastian Faulks’ “favourite” titles. One of them was Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn, not only a very funny book but also one of the best evocations of journalism in those days. I thought it was out of print; if so, it’s clearly back in now. Highly recommended for anyone at all interested in hackdom, or just an entertaining read.

I bought a remington typewriter in a fit of neo-nostalgia on a road-trip to the Blue Mountains, some time ago. I can figure out my computer just fine, but I just couldn’t get that little beastie to type at a decent pace without two hammers eventually catching together and jamming. Aside from that, the tangible ‘clack clack’ was immensely soothing.

Sadly, it met its end when a drunken friend tripped over it during a rowdy group poetry session, bending several keys to unusable angles. I know if I’d been resourceful with a pair of pliers I could have fixed it…but given that it couldn’t keep up with me I didn’t see the point. Also, it’s difficult to find typewriters that’ll handle Dvorak.

That being said, I dare say if one of those ‘war correspondent grade’ typewriters - such as were beloved by Hunter S Thompson et al - were to come my way, my head would probably turn once more, much to the chagrin of Mia (my decidedly tough Macbook Pro).

Ah, the siren call of the big metal machines. The days when words weren’t just something you could wield like daggers, but the very MEDIUM could kill you too, if you weren’t careful near the clack-clacks.

The age of computing has been largely without such imposing devices and ambience. True, there was the famous incident that lead to IBM changing their official systems engineer dress code to be sans tie (a printer technician was killed by a giant IBM commercial printing rig, when his tie caught and pulled him through the immense rollers), but for the most part it’s just been beige and iron confuzzlement, all round.

There’s still the rumble of the presses to enjoy, vibrating the building as they start up with the first editions. Unfortunately nowadays, however, the buildings they occupy tend to be miles away from the places where the words they print are created.

Black Fellah,
The Daily Express building (Gt. Ancoats St, Manchester), I referred to, in my reply to Hugh, had an all glass exterior. Passer-by on foot or on buses, could see almost everything that went on. … ks5608.jpg

Great books about journalism back in the day:

Something like A crooked sixpence by an Australian journalist who made it to the place of the holy grail – Fleet Street – then ended up with a job on a Sundayer or a crummy mag or something producing smutty fiction printed under a grand sounding byline and purporting to be the sad story of a shop girl’s fall at the hands of a chinless aristo. I don’t remember the book as great literature, but the story was redolent with the stench of truth, judging from what I heard from immigrant English and returned Australian journalists.

My Brother Jack by George Johnston – set in Melbourne pre-WWII and then through WWII. Entering journalism in 1960 in Melbourne, I was just in time to catch the last rags of that time (apologies to John Donne).

I left to be AAP (Australian Associated Press) and Reuters’ first and last full time correspondent in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, in late 1963, which, in terms of my general unpreparedness for the role, had some of the comic overtones of Scoop. Total professional equipment taken was one (count them, one!) portable typewriter and three (count them, three) spare typewriter ribbons, and a contact book with the Melbourne AAP office, the London Reuters, and the Port Moresby, PNG, AAP-Reuters correspondent’s mail and cable addresses and phone numbers the only blemish on its snowy pages. (AAP_Reuters didn’t do pictures.)

Most of my material went to Melbourne – radio teletype from Rabaul to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission in Australia, and thence to the AAP office (situated on the next floor in the same building for convenience – the two offices were connected by pneumatic tubefor swift lodgement and collection of cables). If it was a quiet night, the ex-navy signals officers who ran the Rabaul OTC office would take the opportunity to get some live practice, hand-sending my cable by morse code.

A weekly “situationer” or “backgrounder” – a feature of 1000-2500 words, would go by airmail.

The cables all over the world went by the Commonwealth Press Rate – a ha’penny a word – and even at that, we were expected to remove unnecessary words. Communicating between centres and especially internationally by phone was time consuming, subject to long delays, and deeply, deeply condemned in the world’s biggest news agency!

:open_mouth: :smiley: :open_mouth:

Truly a piece of architectural wonder in the International (Bauhaus) style. I should very much like to see it in person. Walter Gropier must be smiling pleasantly in his grave.

Two Things

(1) Must be a huge “window washing” budget.

(2) Must be awful hard heating and cooling that building with all those windows.