|Old machine can produce new words|
From Latin typus, from Ancient Greek τύπος (tupos, “mark, impression , type”), from τύπτω (tuptō, “I strike, beat”)
Think of the big drums called tympani, and you’re on the right track. Fingers strike keys, keys move type, type strikes paper on platen, leaving inked impression. The first commercial typewriter dates back to 1868 and the first office typists were all men. That’s because secretaries in those days were all men. (Also, the typewriter was a machine, right?) Later, as women entered the field, one full-page magazine advertisement (I used to have the magazine, but it’s gotten away from me) showed a young woman using its product under the banner “THE KEYS THAT GAVE HER FREEDOM!” I confess I never felt that way myself when I worked in offices. One generation’s freedom is another’s captivity.
|Two visitors to bookstore|
Where would the modern mystery novel have been without mysterious typewritten messages? The anonymous letter-writer uses a machine rather than a pen, realizing that handwriting is identifiable by experts. Ah, but the individual typewriter, too, has its tell-tale quirks. Perhaps one letter is slightly out of alignment or not hit with the same force as the others. Find the typewriter, and you’re on your way to solving the crime!
|Older visitor was a machine|
As is true of older automobiles and farm equipment, the workings of a typewriter are visible, so when something is not working, close visual inspection can often illuminate the problem. Mechanical objects, like their products, reveal themselves to an investigator, who does not need to sit paralyzed and helpless before a sealed “black box” but can “take a look under the hood,” so to speak, and tinker. There’s a nice work: tinker. Mechanical objects are more complicated than pots and pans but accessible to eyes and hands.
|No secrets--isn't it beautiful?|
This lovely old Woodstock typewriter was manufactured in Woodstock, Illinois, the little town where the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” was filmed. Could there be a connection? Back to the past? The past living on in the present? The machine was produced close to the time my father (now deceased) was born, almost a hundred years ago. It still works.
How many poems and short stories and novels were composed on typewriters in the century of the machine’s dominance? Remember the three mystery poems I received in the mail earlier this year? In adolescence I generally wrote letters longhand but loved to type my poems. It felt so much more “professional,” as if I were a “real” writer. Then, to send them off to The New Yorker, in all the naiveté of youth! Such romance!
How many movies feature sound tracks with typing, that clattery, mechanical but somehow still human sound many of us still find cheerful and comforting? Sorry I didn't have the patience to persevere with uploading a video of typist at work in bookstore. Anyone who has types--I mean, tips!--on uploading videos, feel free to give me advice....