My first typewriter was a grey Smith-Corona set in a neat, tweed-pattern hard-shell carrying case with a plastic handle. It would write anything: funny stories, high school papers, letters to the editor, college and job applications. Its keys didn’t have the crisp clack of the bigger, older models. It hammered out a gentler, muted tap that still said “I’M WRITING SOMETHING” to anyone nearby. Our old newsrooms were filled with the noise of Remmington staccatos, pneumatic tubes, brash-talking reporters, harried editors and jangling phones, with linotype machines clanking away next door. That felt and sounded important. Today’s scribes connect to soundless keyboards and voiceless devices. Just different, or better? I couldn’t do without my quiet computer that can not only type but share every word with the world. But I am a little nostalgic for the art and inspiration and hard work and inky fingers that went with my old typewriter.
As Meg Jones wrote in her Journal Sentinel story, there was a purity and single-mindedness in that old, now hip, writing machine:
“While computers are great for connecting people, finding information, playing games and watching videos, typewriters only do one thing: type.”