When I were a lad…

I used to do all my writing on an Adler manual typewriter.

That sounds a bit grand, so here’s some context.

I was a ten-year old; we had a bunch of manual typewriters knocking around in various offices.

On a quarter-sized desk in the accounts office was an Adler manual typewriter; it was so large, the footprint occupied the entire desktop.

On days I wasn’t working – it’s a long story that involves twisted parental values in a Victorian kind of way, a strict rule that I had to work for every penny of pocket-money, under the pretext that it would teach me the value of things, but in retrospect I feel I was slave labour – I used to sit in the accounts office and bang away at the big heavy keys.

The whole machine was too heavy to move, the keys needed such force that fingertips would soon numb from the downwards pressure, and the manual return-lever was heavy enough to break your wrist if you got the timing wrong, but I did love that Microwave-sized monstrosity.

Two sheets of A4, separated by a filing of carbon paper, that usually coloured my fingers too.

What did these experiences teach me?

That I hate manual typewriters; you can’t edit on a manual typewriter.

Tippex – the Adler didn’t have correcting ribbon – is no substitute for having the immediate editing function that today’s technology has given us.

How would, I wonder, most of us fare if we were transported back to the pre-electric office equipment era?

Maybe like the good people over at JournoTerrorist?

It’s an interesting experiment; take a bunch of students, give them ‘old technology’ and ask them to produce a newspaper.

You can read how they got on here.

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2 Responses to When I were a lad…

  1. Masher says:

    Interesting – and amusing – read.
    Brought it all flooding back: the hours spent in a sweaty darkroom tying to coax a little extra contrast out of my latest B&W image, being pleased with the result when seen under the red light and then turning the proper light on and being proper disappointed.

    And did manual typewriters really not have a number 1 key? I don’t remember that!

  2. Blimey ….. typewriters. That takes me back. I learnt to touch-type on one when I was at school, and it was nothing like the monstrosity that you had to deal with. But bloody hell, yeh – it would be really interesting to see how kids cope with them today!