Thursday, October 27, 2005

Keystrokes again

Since posting Keystrokes I have had some great comments, and they made me think more about the old typewriter experience. Just think of the things we take for granted now with word processors that we had to do manually 'way back when'.

Center justification - Now it is just a click away, but we used to have to find the center of your paper by folding it in half longways and making a small crease. Put the paper into the typewriter and position your type insertion point at that fold. Start backspacing once for every 2 letters you want to center up. (This was usually just a title or heading of a page, thank goodness). When you get to the end of the item to be centered, you start typing, and voila it will be centered (hopefully).

Superscript/subscript - Now it is just a matter of font/format, but we used to have to manually roll the carriage up or down a half a space, and while holding in that position, type the number/letter to be superscript or subscript. (Not too hard, actually, but the font size was exactly the same as the rest of the text..)

Copy/paste - A wonderful perk of the modern word processors! But I am afraid there is nothing to compare it to in the old days. But speaking of copies, typing paper with carbon paper in between (BLUE on your hands) was how we made extra copies of what we typed. Like when typing a letter, always an extra copy for the file. Or more than one if someone else was to get a copy. (Hence the cc: at the bottom of a letter still means carbon copy, literally back then.)

Spellcheck used to be called proofreading.

And who can forget the familiar 'ding' to warn you that the end of the line is coming, better finish that work, oh no it is too long, oops - press the release margin key and type the other two letters. OR pull out the dictionary (that BIG book with all the words in it, that shows you how to divide words up properly between syllables) and divide the word at the end of the line with a hyphen, whew!

Gosh I sound really old! The first recorded patent for a typewriter was in 1714, so it had a good long run, thank goodness progress intervened so we can sit here at our computers and type, I mean keyboard.


Alice said...

Susan, you forgot to mention the broken fingernails, the noise, the lack of fonts, and the thrill when corrector ribbons were introduced, but that was still no use if you had to make carbon copies. We sometimes had to make copies on several different coloured sheets at one time - pink, green, blue, yellow - and we could use the same coloured correction fluid on each one AND THEN WAIT FOR IT TO DRY. How tedious!

I didn't start working in an office until 1986 so I only used a typewriter for a couple of years. Word processors gradually took over and then personal computers. It certainly has made life easier and everyone seems to be able to use a computer keyboard now whereas they wouldn't necessarily have been able to use a typewriter.

susan said...

Alice, yes the noise was deafening in a classroom full of typewriters going strong! Thanks for all the reminders, it just makes me more thankful of progress.

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