Crazy gadgets

I’ve seen a few in my day.

Fellow crusties will remember typing class in high school, where we used old manual Royals, Olympias, Smith-Coronas or Olivettis to hone our mad skills. f-f-f-space, j-j-j-space. I loved those exercises because they had a definite rhythm. I remember trying to get the “tempo” of my typing as fast and rhythmically correct as possible. I never wanted to miss a “beat.” Is that music-geeky or what? But it served me well; learning to type fast on a manual helped me immensely on the easy keyboards of today, and even on electric typewriters back in the olden days (remember that old Selectric we had in the office years ago, RD?) I learned from the ground up.

Some of my friends and family like to poke fun at my typing style. I’m like Beethoven; keyboards don’t last forever with me. I type the way I play piano: forcefully, and without a single iota of finesse. But I get the letters and papers written, lemmetellya. Love it. (The secret:  in both playing piano and typing — never look at your hands. Well, almost never.)

Anyway. I was looking at some old typewriters this morning, and saw a few memories. I typed on a Royal manual, pictured above. The typing classroom was loud, loud, loud, as you might imagine (or remember, if you’re old enough).

Then came the portable manual — made of plastic instead of metal, so they were easy to carry around. But it was the IBM Selectric (pictured at left) that made everybody go positively mad. It had a little golf-ball-lookin’ typing head mechanism that you hooked onto the carriage. You could switch it out when you needed a different font, which of course meant that you had to buy a whole box of them to get the ones you wanted. But it was awesome at the time, heh. Progress.

Our mom had a portable electric — similar to the Selectric, but, again, made of plastic instead of metal. I remember typing a paper or two on it in high school, just to be fancy (back when typing a paper was almost never a requirement, except in typing class).  It was all cool and new and impressive.

But get a load-a THIS…

You really got to love the throwback to drop $350+shipping to have one of these crazy thangs. It looks kind of fun, though…

Anyone got a spare iPad on ’em? I’d like to try this.


8 thoughts on “Crazy gadgets

  1. Rae

    I was at the top of my typing class even though I struggled with reaching numbers blind for the first day. I think I still have the certificate somewhere…

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I particularly noticed the “first day” part. Knowing you, you hit it out the park on the *second* day.

  2. Greg

    I still have my old Smith Corona portable in my closet–typed quite a few college papers with that old machine and it was used when I bought it! It served me well enough to get a temp job with the State of Ohio as a clerk/typist—actually beat out several of the women who were taking the typing test for the position.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      You go, Greggy! “Clerk/typist” isn’t seen much anymore as a job description, is it. Now it’s “office manager” or “data entry specialist.” In fact, in schools now, “typing” has been replaced with the ridiculous and pretentious “keyboarding.” Whatev!

      Now get back to waxing that kitchen floor…

  3. BoomR

    I took a 1-semester course my soph year in HS… “Personal Typing”… best class I ever took!! I was the 2nd “best” (?) typist in the class at the end of the semester – 60 wpm with 3 errors. The person who beat me was a senior… a flute player… and older sister of one of my best friends. She did 60 wpm with 2 errors. RATS! (no offense, fink!)

    I remember the first time I got my hands on an IBM Selectric. It was in the BYC offices right across from the AC campus. Not only was it UBERcool, but it had an “auto-correction” feature and could also store several “documents” in memory for reuse over & over. Can you say ‘early word processor’ ??? SHUDDUP!! :-)

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  4. Meg

    OK, so this isn’t Meg, it’s Meg’s Mama, but I loved this! I remember it all and how the ‘band’ kids got first access to the electric typewriters in typing class because they had the dexterity…at least I THINK that’s why. Do you remember the early word processors that let you see all of about 24 characters of text? How times have changed!

    1. Rat Fink Post author


      So for once, the bandies got preferential treatment in school? Not possible. :-)

      BoomR mentioned something like what you’re referring to. I can’t remember the ones that stored docs, but I do remember machines that had little read-out screens below the carriage that displayed characters. Is that what you mean? We thought it was the coolest…tempora mutantur indeed.

      1. Meg

        Yep…that’s it! Very cool indeed…only took about an hour and a half to proof a document 24 characters at a time before printing it!


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