Your Computer's Grandpa
edited: Monday, July 06, 2009
By F William (Bill) Broome
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, July 06, 2009
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A long overdue salute.....
Your Computer's Grandpa
The typewriter is the unheralded workhorse of writers in the Twentieth Century. The forerunner of computers and chip powered worlds. The mute maker of a zillion inked letters erased and retyped. The productive method of keeping history and making modern books. The timely tool toward educating and entertaining peoples over the world.
How else could mankind have kept pace in communicating with others and passing along knowledge to oncoming generations? And, in what other form could there have been mechanically created documents, plays, newspapers, movie scripts, poetry, music, and love letters in easy to read formats acceptable to all? In the days before sound was broadcasted, how else to disseminate messages by wire after being typed on a keyboard, the offspring of early on typewriters?
Youths of early years in the 1900s found jobs and careers after learning how to type on machines that are now resting in museums and family treasure troves. Those were the days of the Oliver, the Standard, the Smith-Corona, the Underwood, the Royal, the Olympic, the Remington, the Adler, , and other long forgotten brands spanning the typewriter's history.
In my youth and high school, typing as an extra course was offered for fifty cents a session, and in spite of lean years and five children, my parents parted with as much of the cost as needed above my working on weekends. Upon graduation and entry into night college classes, the ability to type gave extra chances to charge small amounts for typing another's papers, and ready access to a typewriter was a must for one enrolled in journalism class.
An uncle, who ran his own weekly newspaper in a South Georgia county seat, made an ancient machine available to me, an Oliver, with its keys halved, they sat above and to the left and right of the platen on which each metal letter would strike with a sheet of paper between. That and better typewriters became my other self, my alter ego, my path to success.
Had I not known how to type, I might not have been a radio operator early in my military service, and had I not gone on to teach the Morse code, I would not have served in the Army Air Force, where my life was not on the line during combat. It is not untrue that the typewriter, in many ways, probably saved my life. Having mastered that skill paved the way for me to go on to important and rewarding assignments in life. It allowed me to build careers in which I was never without the need for the typewriter.
Of course, I could have hired a stenographer, a typist, a secretary to do the typing for me, and I did hire dozens along the way. But, there has never been a substitute for doing the job myself; for typing things the way I wanted, and enjoying the way it made me capable and feel good about myself and my work.
My love for, and benefits through, operating a typewriter, are multiplied millions of times over in the decades since my learning its skills. Back then, workers with ethics strong and resilient, used the typewriter to give the world its infrastructure, its keyboard ability to move into the computer age; each and every gadget and massive system allowing us to go to the moon, cook food on the way, handle waste, listen to favorite music on the way, and to communicate with those who had put the Astronauts up there.
- - - The lowly typewriter, the silent machine, is surely worthy of words as fitting as those of the great poet, John Keats. The last lines of his amazing poem, "Ode on a Grecian Urn,"
"Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."