mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest
Typewriter Diaries Options
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 10:58:22 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
Back in the day, we had typewriters. Those mechanical thingies with levers that whacked an ink ribbon onto paper. One story has it that the QWERTY key layout was deliberately designed to slow typists down to prevent them from crashing the swinging character levers against each other (I do remember having to untangle the horrifying results of some of these crashes). We didn't have any fancy-pants Delete or Backspace key—just poisonous fumes Wite-Out or barely functional white-over ribbons. For emphasis, we had the now discredited (though still inexplicably available) underlining, or, on fancy models, a half-red ribbon. For serious work, corrections were simply not acceptable, one had to do it over. No wonder everybody smoked! But I digress…

…or do I? I think I'll expand this topic to typewriters in general and our fond fond memories of them. I'm putting it into the Computer area because it's a technological topic, and my original idea was to see what sorts of "typewriter hangovers" people had brought with them into the age of desktop publishing. For instance, the reason people started typing two hyphens where an em-dash is required is that typewriters did not have an em-dash key. Using three dots for the ellipsis and inserting two spaces after a period are other previously adaptive behaviors many people acquired on typewriters that are no longer necessary.

So, who remembers typewriters with love or hatred? I recall when the IBM Selectric with exchangeable ball fonts came out. That was a revolution.
fred
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 11:26:26 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/1/2009
Posts: 1,475
Neurons: 4,457
Location: United States
I have this from Gramps:


[image not available]


I used my dad's a few times:


[image not available]


If you are not a speller, you will learn what Hell is.
There also used to be a thing called typewriter repair shops.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xh4af_jerry-lewis-typewriter_life

Minipisikil
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 11:45:53 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/2/2009
Posts: 78
Neurons: 234
Location: United States
My mother's IBM electric typewriter lasted 20 years and could strike through enough onionskin paper and carbon paper to produce an original and 6 copies. I can still picture her making erasures on all those copies. Producing copies is much easier now, but I don't think my computer will last quite 20 years.
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 11:56:26 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
That Remington Portable is a classic! The Royal is the same model as one I destroyed with a hammer in a High School English class as part of a "special project" performance art piece in which I turned the lights down, lit candles, and played a reel-to-reel tape of a bunch of psychedelic guitar solos. After the machine had been reduced to scrap, we put the remains into a trash can and began a solemn procession in and out of 3 or 4 other classrooms (some of them appreciated the disruption, others wanted me expelled), then ended up on the football field where we said some appropriate words and dumped the trash can into a larger trash can. What were we thinking? Must have been the drugs.

The Jerry Lewis clip reminded me just how musical typing was. You had the little alarm bell to tell you when you were getting to the end of a line, then you had to reach up and push the lever to simultaneously advance the paper one line and return to the left margin. Part of avoiding key collisions was getting into just that sort of rhythm. Losing that rhythmic aspect was a downside to the Selectric. But having replaceable font balls made up for it.
early_apex
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 12:24:11 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/20/2009
Posts: 2,281
Neurons: 12,855
Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
The typewriter hangovers that come to mind first are the "Enter" key, which used to be called "Return". Although it is just "Enter" today, it still has a graphic that indicates the two operations: carriage return and line feed. (Come to think of it, Selectrics did away with carriages, too. Something Henry Ford is wrongly credited with.)

The other is the "Tab" key. Does anyone still know what "Tab" means? It is for creating tables, which you can do wonderful things with today in MS Word. In earlier times, tables were created by setting your "tab stops" and thus setting up your columns. (If you set your tabs too far apart, the momentum of the carriage will jolt the table.)

"Shift case" is essentially meaningless today, but the uppercase characters used to reside directly below the lowercase ones, and the entire mechanism had to be shifted up to imprint with capitals.

I cannot remember what my reasoning was for opting to take Typing Class in High School, but I suppose it was to meet girls. Highest female-to-male ratio class in school. Whenever I see someone attempting two-fingered typing, I am thankful for the skills learned long ago.

You mean I don't have to leave two spaces after the period? At this point, I will probably persist.
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 12:44:15 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
early_apex wrote:
I cannot remember what my reasoning was for opting to take Typing Class in High School, but I suppose it was to meet girls. Highest female-to-male ratio class in school. Whenever I see someone attempting two-fingered typing, I am thankful for the skills learned long ago.

I can't remember my reasoning either, but that class was packed w/girls. One of them was wicked fast with two fingers, but whenever the teacher walked by her she would switch to touch typing with all fingers (and slow down) until the danger passed.

early_apex wrote:
You mean I don't have to leave two spaces after the period? At this point, I will probably persist.

Some typography police types will get very insulting to people who persist in the two space rule, but it still makes some sense if you're using a fixed-width font or trying to make a web page more readable. And it is a very very difficult habit to get rid of, since it has long since been overlearned and shifted into the cerebellum or somewhere where it is not easily got at by the conscious brain.

Now here's something interesting: early_apex says he uses two spaces after a period, and, when I quoted him I could see those spaces in his text, but, when I look at my post, those spaces have been collapsed. So the TFD editing window, which does seem to be HTML-based even though the tags are [ ] rather than < >, does the HTML behavior of collapsing multiple spaces into one. See below, which, if you quote it, you can see in the editing window to have multiple spaces, but in the post they're condensed. I wonder if we can use a non-breaking space character here?

One space. Next sentence.
Three spaces. Next sentence.
Ten spaces. Next sentence.
bugdoctor
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 1:45:28 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/8/2009
Posts: 1,789
Neurons: 5,456
Location: United States - Georgia
I didn't take typing in high school, and in the summer prior to college, I knew it would be a necessary skill. So I bought a book to teach me - you know, one of those 'how to......... in 10 easy lessons'. And it worked. I used an old Underwood Olivetti, with LOTS of correction strips!
Raparee
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:07:25 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 1,228
Neurons: 18,102
As a proofreader/editor for state gov, please, FOR THE LOVE OF ANY DEITY YOU LIKE, keep using two spaces after a period (and the end of any sentence, for that matter)! I can't tell you how often I get cross-eyed reading reports with single spaces, especially when you have abbreviations scattered throughout. It's trippy trying to figure out where sentences are supposed to end. And yes, most websites, regardless of whether or not you use two spaces, will shrink it to one. Feh. It's a very easy-to-use feature that really aids in readability.

I took typing in HS for kicks. It was an elective and the teacher was a blast. I went from typing probably 50wpm wrong (still all fingers, but in my positioning), to probably 70/80wpm then and 100wpm now in proper position. Hunt-and-peck typists make me cringe and I will beg them to move to let me type for them. It's like nails on a chalkboard to me; it's just terribly inefficient and s-l-o-w. We had the electric typewriters in HS, but I remember mom's old standard typewriter with correct tape (which was still in use on the electrics) and carbon copies and all that. We didn't have the really old ones though. But yes, I remember using tabs and tab sets and all of that good stuff. That and I remember typing class being a hell of a great time. ;)
arthbard
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:14:31 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/26/2009
Posts: 63
Neurons: 189
Location: South Carolina
When I learned in the 90s, typewriters were already well on their way to becoming obsolete, but my school still taught the class with typewriters. Everyone had to bring their own typewriter, and my parents supplied me with an ancient hunk of junk they'd bought on the cheap at a yard sale. So, while everyone else had modern typewriters with font balls and correction ribbons, I, alas, did not. I remember that the return key on that typewriter would send the carriage back to the beginning of the next line with such force that the whole machine would slide a little bit each time (which is saying something, because it was a pretty heavy machine). Every so often, I would have to stop to reposition the typewriter on the desk.

Speaking of which, hitting return at the end of each line is definitely something I do not miss. I never had a very good feel for how much space was left once I head the "ding" as the text approached the right margin. I couldn't get the knack for knowing whether I had room left to finish the next word or whether I should go ahead and start a new line.

Luftmarque wrote:
Now here's something interesting: early_apex says he uses two spaces after a period, and, when I quoted him I could see those spaces in his text, but, when I look at my post, those spaces have been collapsed. So the TFD editing window, which does seem to be HTML-based even though the tags are [ ] rather than < >, does the HTML behavior of collapsing multiple spaces into one. See below, which, if you quote it, you can see in the editing window to have multiple spaces, but in the post they're condensed. I wonder if we can use a non-breaking space character here?


&nbsp;

Nope. At least not that way ...

I do remember the first time I read in my college grammar book that there should only be one space after a period. I don't normally consider myself a very malicious person, but for a moment there, I absolutely hated the woman who had taught me to type two spaces. I will say that I managed to break the habit faster than I thought I would be able to, but I didn't enjoy it one bit.
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:26:26 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
Raparee wrote:
As a proofreader/editor for state gov, please, FOR THE LOVE OF ANY DEITY YOU LIKE, keep using two spaces after a period (and the end of any sentence, for that matter)! I can't tell you how often I get cross-eyed reading reports with single spaces, especially when you have abbreviations scattered throughout. It's trippy trying to figure out where sentences are supposed to end. And yes, most websites, regardless of whether or not you use two spaces, will shrink it to one. Feh. It's a very easy-to-use feature that really aids in readability.

There is certainly a case to be made for extra space after the period in documents with a lot of abbreviations. I can see where the ambiguity would slow you down.

I bought a lot of U.S. Savings Bonds.
I bought a lot from the U.S. Savings resulted since it was surplus property.


The extra space is supposed to be a characteristic of the period character itself, but often is not adequate. So, even though I am definitely a one-spacer in my own writing, I will back Reparee on this one.
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:42:56 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
arthbard wrote:
Speaking of which, hitting return at the end of each line is definitely something I do not miss. I never had a very good feel for how much space was left once I head the "ding" as the text approached the right margin. I couldn't get the knack for knowing whether I had room left to finish the next word or whether I should go ahead and start a new line.

Oh yeah, combine that uncertainty with a document that couldn't be corrected and you have all the makings of a nervous breakdown! I did get pretty good at predicting whether I should finish a word or hyphenate it, but there was always some situation where I would end up manually scooting the paper over to just get one more character in.

&nbsp;Nope. At least not that way ...
Code:
&nbsp;
not this way either
[&nbsp;] nor this
<&nbsp;> ditto
Code:
[&nbsp;] <&nbsp;>
nope
early_apex
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 4:14:00 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/20/2009
Posts: 2,281
Neurons: 12,855
Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
Sometimes I feel like Grandpa sitting on the porch, but here is another recollection. When I was in college, the one computer was a mainframe that received its input in the form of punched cards. Of course with programming language, every character and space is critical, but it is hard to proofread the cards. Once you had your program punched, you added to the stack of programs to be run overnight, and then returned the next day to see that your margins were wrong.

As you might imagine, there was no correction tape for a punch card machine.
fred
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 4:17:42 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/1/2009
Posts: 1,475
Neurons: 4,457
Location: United States
early_apex wrote:
Sometimes I feel like Grandpa sitting on the porch, but here is another recollection. When I was in college, the one computer was a mainframe that received its input in the form of punched cards. Of course with programming language, every character and space is critical, but it is hard to proofread the cards. Once you had your program punched, you added to the stack of programs to be run overnight, and then returned the next day to see that your margins were wrong.

As you might imagine, there was no correction tape for a punch card machine.


Punch cards make good book marks.
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 4:29:53 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
early_apex wrote:
Sometimes I feel like Grandpa sitting on the porch, but here is another recollection. When I was in college, the one computer was a mainframe that received its input in the form of punched cards. Of course with programming language, every character and space is critical, but it is hard to proofread the cards. Once you had your program punched, you added to the stack of programs to be run overnight, and then returned the next day to see that your margins were wrong.

As you might imagine, there was no correction tape for a punch card machine.

This is turning into a class reunion or something—my first meaningful grown-up job was repairing all those card-handling machines: the card punch, readers, collators, sorters. By the time I was working on them people had figured out that you should number the cards so that when one (inevitably) dropped a deck they could be mechanically sorted and rearranged, I can just imagine what fun it was to do that by hand. Later in life I got on the other side of the process and started programming with punch-cards. The write cards-submit cards-take a break-get the output-fix the misplaced comma cycle must have consumed a year or so. Herman Hollerith cards were somewhat similar to the earlier wooden control cards of the Jacquard Loom. I miss being able to fold, spindle, and mutilate my data! And what is the correct number of columns for ever and ever? 80!
grammargeek
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 5:26:07 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/21/2009
Posts: 11,136
Neurons: 33,836
Location: Arizona, U.S.
Luftmarque wrote:

Back in the day, we had typewriters. Those mechanical thingies with levers that whacked an ink ribbon onto paper. One story has it that the QWERTY key layout was deliberately designed to slow typists down to prevent them from crashing the swinging character levers against each other (I do remember having to untangle the horrifying results of some of these crashes). We didn't have any fancy-pants Delete or Backspace key—just poisonous fumes Wite-Out or barely functional white-over ribbons. For emphasis, we had the now discredited (though still inexplicably available) underlining, or, on fancy models, a half-red ribbon. For serious work, corrections were simply not acceptable, one had to do it over. No wonder everybody smoked! But I digress…


Trivia question:
Who invented "Liquid Paper"?
Answer: Mike Nesmith's mother! (For those of you who don't know who Mike Nesmith is, you probably don't know what Liquid Paper is either. Anyway, lest I leave you hanging, Mike Nesmith was one of the Monkees--the one who wore the knit cap.)


Note to self: Learn how to turn "substitutions" on so that my dash will not appear as two hyphens put together.
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 5:47:32 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
grammargeek wrote:
Trivia question:
Who invented "Liquid Paper"?
Answer: Mike Nesmith's mother! (For those of you who don't know who Mike Nesmith is, you probably don't know what Liquid Paper is either. Anyway, lest I leave you hanging, Mike Nesmith was one of the Monkees--the one who wore the knit cap.)

Now that is truly trivial trivia! I will remember it forever.

grammargeek wrote:
Note to self: Learn how to turn "substitutions" on so that my dash will not appear as two hyphens put together.

In Word 2003: Tools-->Auto-Correct Options-->Auto Format As You Type, check "Hyphens with Dash"
AND (bless Word's tiny little brain, when exactly, would you want these to be different?)
Tools-->Auto-Correct Options-->Auto Format, check "Hyphens with Dash"
grammargeek
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 6:07:33 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/21/2009
Posts: 11,136
Neurons: 33,836
Location: Arizona, U.S.
Luftmarque wrote:
grammargeek wrote:
Trivia question:
Who invented "Liquid Paper"?
Answer: Mike Nesmith's mother! (For those of you who don't know who Mike Nesmith is, you probably don't know what Liquid Paper is either. Anyway, lest I leave you hanging, Mike Nesmith was one of the Monkees--the one who wore the knit cap.)

Now that is truly trivial trivia! I will remember it forever.

I'm glad you liked that. It's one of the very few pieces of trivia I know!

grammargeek wrote:
Note to self: Learn how to turn "substitutions" on so that my dash will not appear as two hyphens put together.

In Word 2003: Tools-->Auto-Correct Options-->Auto Format As You Type, check "Hyphens with Dash"
AND (bless Word's tiny little brain, when exactly, would you want these to be different?)
Tools-->Auto-Correct Options-->Auto Format, check "Hyphens with Dash"


OK, I followed your instructions exactly. However, it looked like all of those steps were already done so I checked it by writing a sample sentence on a Word document. When I did that, my two hyphens did indeed magically come together to become one--a dash! Now I am presuming that what I just typed is still going to appear as two hyphens in my post. So if Word is not used on these forums, how do you remedy the problem here?

Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 6:48:02 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
grammargeek wrote:
OK, I followed your instructions exactly. However, it looked like all of those steps were already done so I checked it by writing a sample sentence on a Word document. When I did that, my two hyphens did indeed magically come together to become one--a dash! Now I am presuming that what I just typed is still going to appear as two hyphens in my post. So if Word is not used on these forums, how do you remedy the problem here?

Oh, that's different! To put special characters here, I use the Character Map application to copy and paste. Unfortunately, I'm not sure where the Character Map is in the Windows Programs menu, I moved it. But that's the thing to use.
Joseph Glantz
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 8:39:58 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 2,036
Neurons: 6,040
Location: United States
The Atlantic Monthly had a story about 10 years ago about a guy who still made quite a nice living reparing old typewriters since there were still a bunch of people who preferred the old typewriter over the computer. Hopefully, he's still in business today.
early_apex
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 10:16:18 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/20/2009
Posts: 2,281
Neurons: 12,855
Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
Luftmarque wrote:
Now here's something interesting: early_apex says he uses two spaces after a period, and, when I quoted him I could see those spaces in his text, but, when I look at my post, those spaces have been collapsed. So the TFD editing window, which does seem to be HTML-based even though the tags are [ ] rather than < >, does the HTML behavior of collapsing multiple spaces into one. See below, which, if you quote it, you can see in the editing window to have multiple spaces, but in the post they're condensed. I wonder if we can use a non-breaking space character here?

One space. Next sentence.
Three spaces. Next sentence.
Ten spaces. Next sentence.


I am imagining a megacomputer deep within HTML headquarters consuming spaces by the bitbucketful and saying "All your spaces are belong to us."
early_apex
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 10:17:06 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/20/2009
Posts: 2,281
Neurons: 12,855
Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
Joseph Glantz wrote:
The Atlantic Monthly had a story about 10 years ago about a guy who still made quite a nice living reparing old typewriters since there were still a bunch of people who preferred the old typewriter over the computer. Hopefully, he's still in business today.


In this economy, he may have had to branch out and make VCR repairs as well.
Raparee
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 10:39:52 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 1,228
Neurons: 18,102
early_apex wrote:
I am imagining a megacomputer deep within HTML headquarters consuming spaces by the bitbucketful and saying "All your spaces are belong to us."


Okay, I snorted at this. Applause That might just amuse me all day and will likely be one of those things that will stuck in my brain every time an online site eats my two spaces.

...

I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing.
early_apex
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 10:53:36 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/20/2009
Posts: 2,281
Neurons: 12,855
Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
Raparee wrote:
early_apex wrote:
I am imagining a megacomputer deep within HTML headquarters consuming spaces by the bitbucketful and saying "All your spaces are belong to us."


Okay, I snorted at this. Applause That might just amuse me all day and will likely be one of those things that will stuck in my brain every time an online site eats my two spaces.

...

I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing.


You should proceed with caution for the remainder of the day.
Romany
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 9:11:12 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,740
Neurons: 57,489
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Woah! Now I am getting really confused. My computer experiences started in Papua New Guinea, took me through to South Africa, then Australia and now here in China. I have NEVER heard (or seen) the two hyphen instead of a dash thing? Why? Surely computers the world over are configured the same? But then - lightening hit.

In one of the threads someone was asking about dashes and I airily advised a space before and after same as that is the way our MLA style books teach us and,both as a writer and as a University lecturer, is second nature. At the beginning of each Semester my initial "Housekeeping" class always involves including this as part of the acceptable style usage at Tertiary level.

Imagine my chagrin when people tactfully ignored my erroneous advice and unanimously advised that there were NO spaces between words with dashes!

However, perhaps we are inculcated with this method because, when you do it this way, there is no double dash? I dunno. I'm a Lit.Dram. person: the whys and wherefores of computer usage is something I have - honestly - never even thought about before.

Romany
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 9:18:01 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,740
Neurons: 57,489
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Oh - sorry to hog the post space: but I have to echo the sentiments of Reparee. PLEASE always two spaces after a full stop. Imagine sitting at 2am with a pile of 3rd Year assignments and going cross-eyed and cranky with the effort. Sentences tend to run together by then anyway, so without the extra space even the most well-craft para. can turn into gobbledygook. It, along with the dash thing, is also made mandatory in our style manuals.
early_apex
Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2009 10:31:56 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/20/2009
Posts: 2,281
Neurons: 12,855
Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
Looking closely at the pictures Fred posted, I was reminded that it was some time before typewriters added the numeral "1". For many years, a lowercase "l" sufficed. Needless to say, choosing a font in pre-Selectric times was a one-time decision when you bought your typing machine.
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.