Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used To Be

I have just read Paul Lefebvre’s piece on the EndOfLine object, and was fascinated by his description of the typewriter carriage moving from left to right. I wonder whether Paul has actually sat and painstakingly created a document with an old manual typewriter, for if he has, he must surely have noticed that the carriage in fact travels in the opposite direction, i.e. right to left. When the bell pings, he would have noticed that it was with his left hand that he had to return the carriage to the right for the next line of text. It would actually have been very difficult on most machines to return the carriage, using the lever, whereto Paul refers, without also turning the platen roller.

[h]Missing Tech[/h]
Paul has, sadly, missed out several generations of type-tech, such as, for example, IBM’s “golfball”, which replaced the type arms, and was moved by an electric motor. This device had the whole font arrayed around the surface of a metal sphere, which turned and printed with each keystroke. There was also the “Daisy Wheel”, wherein the whole character set was laid out on the radial arms of a plastic wheel. This had the added advantage that one could change the font by changing the daisy wheel. In these electric machines, very often, the carriage return / line feed was automatic, obviating the need to remove one’s hands from the keyboard.

[h]Missing Link[/h]
In a similar manner Paul jumps straight from typewriter to screen, totally overlooking the earlier technology where computers were hooked up to teletype machines, and produced reams and reams of typescript. (Who still recalls those furlongs of green lines on the zigzag sheets, with their tear-off perforated strips down each side?) This is evidenced, obviously, by the continued use of the word “print” in code, when it is required to display text on a screen. In these machines, it is actually the type head which moves laterally, from left to right while typing, then returns swiftly to the left margin having completed a line, but still the platen which turns to feed the next line.

There is much else that might be said about the evolution of word-processing, for example the continued use of two spaces following a full stop (or “period”, if you must). It has no place in modern word-processing with its general use of proportional type faces. The continued existence of the underline, which typographically is horrendous, is another such. (In fact the carriage return without line feed to which Paul refers, is necessary precisely so that one can add the underline to the already-typed text. There was no way in which one could set a manual machine to type each character with an underscore; that came later with the electric typewriter.)

I hope and trust that you will indulge me for this descent into raw nostalgia, but I felt truly moved to set the matter straight.

As my wife likes to tell me, I never can remember my left from my right. And it’s been many years since I used a manual typewriter in high school when I was learning how to type. Hopefully my left-to-right challenges didn’t confuse anyone too much.

I remember when I first started working at Xojo, Alyssa had to break me of my deeply ingrained usage of 2 spaces after a period.

Thanks for the additional typewriter deep dive, although I don’t think it’s “sad” I missed out on several generations of typewriters. They were a pain!

1 Like

I learned typing on old manual typewriters before there were electric typewriters, let alone an IBM Selectric. Later, the IBM Office Products division (OP) pushed those pretty hard at schools because students could learn to type much easier, and get to a faster WPM much sooner. And it had the side benefit of those students not being very good at typing on anything else.

If you never had to do school term papers with properly annotated footnotes at the bottom of each page, all laid out and typed on a manual typewriter, you can’t fully appreciate word processors. :frowning:

Nostalgia is cleaning out newspapers from 2 weeks ago. The pictures from public spaces look so odd because of the many people.

I had a mechanical typewriter. For my first job at 16 or so I had to write on punching type for faxes.

OMG yes!

I could never type well, and papers in high school were pure misery… I used a lot of White-Out!!! If it was not for word processors/PCs I could never have been able to be a professional (or done any coding!)

Besides typewriters , there were keypunches for coding in college… and you can’t use white-out on a keypunched card! :wink:


[quote=481656:@Nicholas KERR][h]Right-to-Left[/h]
I have just read Paul Lefebvre’s piece on the EndOfLine object, …[/quote]

I know and have used every last one of those items :slight_smile:

The weird thing is that computers were supposed to save us from the enormous amounts of paper used but for a long time paper usage went way up.
Why ?
It was so darned easy to rewrite or retype a page and hit print.
My dad used to tell me that when he had a secretary that there was NO way he would ask her to retype something more than once. So he wrote it and it got edited and retyped. Once
After computers came to their offices it was so easy to make a revision that it wasnt uncommon to do many many revisions
It was so easy to do that - well - why not ?
And so they did
I’m sure that happened everywhere

anyone else have pockets full of elastics for those damned things ?

Why? I still do this to this day, is it wrong?!

Not to those of us who learned it right. :slight_smile:

And yes, I know how to disable the iOS shortcut which will insert a period when you type two spaces. But I like that shortcut. And when I want multiple spaces without a period, you simply add a pause after the first space before hitting the next.

1 Like

Most style guides suggest one space these days.

Still remember in college, you could always tell the computer science majors because they walked around campus with box of 80-column cards under their arm…

And I still miss that old Green-Bar paper that was so big you couldn’t file it anywhere but in one of those special print-out folders.

And everything was UPPERCASE then.

1 Like

And there used to be such a thing as thermal printers

thermal printers… who’s printouts went black after a few days , not to mention the paper was super expensive

didnt thermals come along after the impact printers ?

I recall looking at this but we couldnt use anything but an impact printer as they printed on sealed paper so no one could read them but the print showed up on the inside

we had an IBM line printer at the first place I worked after University
OMG was it fast
and LOUD
It was the only room in the building that was sound proofed and you could still hear that thing rattling along when payroll runs were done
At first it produced all the paycheques & pay statements
Folks were so happy when I wrote the quick basic program to send the payroll info to the bank electronically and we could stop printing the paycheques (we still had to print the pay statements)

yes thermals came along after… it was like razors… the printer was cheap, the paper not so much.

Oh… like ink-jets today… the printer is cheap. the ink not so much

To this day the thumping sound of 50 students learning to type in Jr. High still haunts me :stuck_out_tongue:
Took a full year of typing - I + II

the sony walkman was a godsend !

Until you heard the tape squeal and spent a half hour getting the tape out and trying to wind it back into the cassette praying that your AC/DC music was ok :stuck_out_tongue:

Found my grandmothers underwood when I moved my dad out of his house up in Chicago a few years ago :slight_smile: It’s now got a place of honor in my bookshelves where the kids regularly goggle at what I used to type so many school papers :wink: It was out of date by a generation while I was using it for that, but it was that or go to Dads office to get access to a new machine so I used hers :slight_smile:

1 Like

all that new music :stuck_out_tongue: