My typewriter shuttles between home and my computer lab. So when I brought it back from school last week I was surprised to see it was a Corona.
The company that made these marvelous machines was actually Smith Corona. This model goes back to 1935! I love the sound of the keys as I type. Interestingly I use it in demos when introducing keyboarding in class each semester. You should see the rush of students waiting to use the clickety-clack machine –in a class filled with 34 computers!
On an interesting side note, you should watch this TED talk that I had referenced some time back. It’s how a technology innovator names Aparna Rao, hacked a typewriter to enable it to send email! Why? Because it helped her uncle feel he was typing a letter, and still give him the ability to email. Fast forward to 1 min, 14 secs for this segment.
When teaching students keyboarding, or document creation I can’t help notice how much old tech is embedded in our fancy tech tools and applications.
Consider the stylus, which originated as a reed, to inscribe ‘information’ on tablets made of clay. History tells us that humans used tablets way back too!
Then there’s the irreplaceable pencil, often the symbol that something could be edited (for instance in LinkedIn). Facebook uses the pencil icon to ‘make a post’, and for editing one’s profile.
Or consider the floppy disc -which none of my 7th grade students could identify. It lives on as an icon on the ribbon of Microsoft Word. Those who designer of the interface must have been hard pressed to find a replacement to the simple icon.
And isn’t it odd that we still use the 144-year-old QWERTY keyboard from the typewriter era? It apparently made its debut on July 1, 1874. Even the SHIFT key is a hold-over from that revolutionary device. It came into being with the Remington model of 1878. The first Remington sold for $125. I picked up a similar-looking typewriter for $50 recently. It sits next to a laptop, fighting for attention!
New tech can’t completely erase old tech. Nor do we seem to be able to replace one with the other, do we? Makes me wonder what else will survive, should touch pads, thumb drives, and the camera (how many use one today?) icon go away.