Today is International Typewriter Day — just in case you need something to celebrate! I am not alone in my affection for the hallowed machine, as the typewriter and its font are one of the most reproduced images even today.

I paid for much of my college by banging out term papers for others and being employed as a secretary during summers and breaks. My first foray into student organizations was as a secretary to a committee on the program board, and my journalism classes all required us to sit at manual typewriters to practice our craft. Without the typewriter and my ability to use it well, I would have had a very different collegiate experience. 

I have always been a fan of typewriters, and, even though I no longer use them, I have three vintage models that decorate my home. For me, typewriters put me closer to the written word; it always felt more real when I was using a typewriter than when I am writing on a computer. 

Maybe journalist and manual typewriter user Will Self has an explanation for why: “I think the computer user does their thinking on the screen, and the non-computer user is compelled, because he or she has to retype a whole text, to do a lot more thinking in the head.*” 

To celebrate International Typewriter Day, I don’t expect you to drag out the Royal or Remington to do your paperwork, but maybe you could pretend like you are. Think about what you are going to write before you just put your fingers on QWERTY, and formulate those thoughts as if it was arduous to revise them after you hit the keys. Your finger muscles have it easier than when manual typewriters were used; don’t let your thinking muscle get soft too.

beth triplett

*Source: Why typewriters beat computers, BBC News, 5-30-08 as quoted in Wikipedia

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