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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Today in 1868 the typewriter was patented

I learned to type in high school in typing class on a manual typewriter. I got pretty fast: 75 words a minute. It wasn’t easy to type all the keys with consistent pressure so they all looked the same. There were no letters on my keys, which forced me to memorize them.

My parents gave me a Brother typewriter for high school graduation in 1974, which I used for typing all my papers in college the next three years. Back then we had to use something like Wite-out to correct mistakes. It was a pain in the butté to put footnotes at the bottom of the page, let me tell you.

Later, when I worked as a secretary, IBM Selectric typewriters were on the scene, with a backspace key that pulled mistakes right off the page. What a lifesaver. I got so fast on those typewriters I would get ahead 0f its capabilities and it would freeze for a second, making me slow down. Man, too bad I didn’t use this agility to develop my piano playing skills.

In 1991, when Don went back to school to finish his teaching degree, we bought our first personal computer, a used Apple 2C – 6” floppy discs and all -- from his brother. With word processing, we could write, rewrite, move words, paragraphs, delete with a highlight and a button. We bought a new home computer every few years as old ones became obsolete.

Last year I got my first laptop, using a money gift I received just for writing a special report for a study abroad program. (That’s when I got my Olympus camera too. Pretty nice gift.) I use my laptop for work and personal use, and I have a desk “port” in my office for easy and quick clipping in and out. I take it home with me most evenings since our home computer got zapped by a thunderstorm last year. We just have dialup at home, bummer.


my office desktop

Before all this technology, I remember seeing dip pens in my father’s desk growing up, the kind with removable nibs, for dipping in an inkwell. My favorite author, Jane Austen, used these. The fountain pen wasn’t invented until the 1850s. If you’re into calligraphy (Ginnie, rauf), check out this in depth page about flex nibs. With carpal tunnel, I can hardly write a thank you note these days, let alone do calligraphy. My sister Boots (aka Ginnie) has beautiful handwriting. It could be its own font style.




I write poems on my laptop. I love starting with that fresh white empty page. Hit “enter” four times to start the first line (the title usually comes later) in Times Roman size 12. Stroke a key and type the first words. My friend Inge loves to write poems in longhand. It’s a beautiful mind-to-hand process, more organic. But me, I love typing on the computer. Sometimes I retype four lines 20 times. Imagine the paper I would waste if I wrote it out!

Out of curiosity, I’d like to know if you:

~ write hand written letters any more?


~ If you write poems, do you like to write them in longhand or on the computer (or on a typewriter)?


~ What’s your favorite pen or pencil? I like rolling ball pens, especially Pilot Precise or Uni-ball.


~ When you post a blog, do you type the text out in a word processing program first?

~ What's your favorite font? At work I use "Comic Sans MS" size 10 in most emails and other documents. When writing poems I use Times Roman size 12.

25 comments:

Rauf said...

Ruth, Verdana 10 is my favourite font, i never knew it exixted before i bought the computer for my nephew and niece. i asked her and she yells she was studying 8th, ten years ago. it was difficult for me to buy it. Not branded but assembled one. 486 before pentium. i did not touch the computer for over a year. i started using only when i managed to buy a small hand scanner. then i started designing without learning. Still i am a barefoot computer user. my nephew and nice now have a seperate system. they don't read my blog
Computer is my enemy. i never allowed it to affect my life Ruth.
But when Chinna, Mala told me about something called a 'blog' i latched on to it and it changed my life. i met you. i don't remember how i found your blog but i remember posting william wordsworth's daffodils in the comments. i don't know when.

i post directly, i type in the blog box without thinking, without brushing my teeth, that is when i am most offensive. Arshi used to correct my spelling and grammer mistakes but that idiot used to wake up very late. i stopped bashing US and became less offensive once you started visiting my blog. Arshi used to make me delete offensive portions.
But the anger of my friends still remains.

i love fountain pens, had all kinds of calligraphic nibs, pen holder (dip pen) it is still available. now my handwriting is shaky. its years since i sent any hand written letter. Now my friends show me my letters when i visit them. i feel sad. but i am growing old.

Your typing is very slow Ruth, my typing of 2 and a half words per minute is very fast according to Einstein. For my time and space and culture and thick skull, two and a half words PM is very fast, super fast.. and i still get very angry with they keyboard manufactureres for forgetting to add letters R K Y U, i still keep searching for the keys. R was here a minute ago where has it gone ???
idiot keyboard. i still don't know the function of many keys on the keyboard. i don't know why they are there. i am a mouse man. it is dragging of the mouse that gives me the shoulder pain. i have never used the number pad. i don't calculate because i have no money.

if i want to write stories i would write with a pen i don't trust the computer. but i write my experiences in my blog on the keyboard . when i type its like i am telling my silly experiences to a friend.

Rauf said...

Arshi used to call and yell at me if the post was too offensive. Her English is very good. She took me to her psychology practical exam as a 'specimen' hillarious it was, i'll write the whole story. sweet she is.

Ruth said...

I remember when you first visited my blog over a year ago, rauf, but I don't know what month. I think you said you hit "next blog" once and came to mine. I didn't know you altered your writing about the US. Thank you, but I think we might have similar thoughts about that. But it was kind of you.

Oh, that sounds like an interesting story, you being Arshi's specimen! "Here is rauf, Article A . . ." You must write it for us and post it at Daylight Again.

Ginnie said...

Oh Ruth. You are too kind. This Boots is growing old, like Rauf says about himself, and langusihes over handwriting now, even though I still write those hand-written notes. My penmanship is nothing like it was, having seen it's better days. This is how I do indeed know I'm aging. I remember when I noticed it in Mom.

Also like Rauf, I grew up savoring fountain pens. I love the feel of the ink's flow on paper from a good pen. I still have one that resides in it's green leather pouch. It's a Pelican. I can't remember when I last used it.

Almost as important as the utensil for me is the paper. I love narrowly lined paper or graph paper even. When a blank page is before me, I become a poet or artist, whether I am or not. It's what I feel.

When I blog, it's directly on the edit page. Prooftexting is important to me, so the entire editing process from beginning to end is part of my joy, whether I catch mistakes or not.

I am Gemini. What can I say! This is who we are. :)

Ruth said...

Boots, I have MANY fond memories of you. Do you remember writing in calligraphy title plates for high school notebooks for me? I'll bet you don't. I know you love that little green leather pouch, you treasure such packages. You are a meticulous artist who savors these simple joys. I love that about you!

You (my sister) and rauf (a closer brother than I've had) being of a similar age, and this topic of writing instruments are suddenly making me very nostalgic and sentimental.

Ruth said...

rauf, please promise me you'll never type on a French keyboard. It would kill you.

Rauf said...

i have never seen a French keyboard Ruth, But i have installed Malayalam fonts and had to type 2 lines in a design which took me 2 days to do it.

i think i was not a 'specimen' i forgot what it was, i think i was called a 'case' in Arshi's exam. i think it is still worse. i was not an ordinary case but a 'nut case' i can tell you Ruth, i was the best specimen or a case there, i became a hot property. It was an all girls college and most of the students had brought their moms. Some girls decided to ditch their moms when they saw me. So they asked Arshi if they can borrow her 'case' So i became a case for three or four girls. i was at my weiredest behaviour. i made them all happy. First of all Arshi forgot her ID and was not allowed in the exam hall, like always Arshi fought and finally she was allowed. The sacurity told her 'madam you have left your 'case' behind. she forgot about me. she came out grabbed my collar and pulled me inside. i had to wait for an hour with other cases, all women, all moms. Arshi called me and her eyes were begging and pleading me to behave. i was first interviewed by the exminer, then Arshi asked me some questions and i had to fill some kind of weird questionair. later i asked Arshi how much i scored she gave me a very low number like 30 or 20, i was disappointed, she said lower the points i score higher the marks she gets. After this other girls wanted to 'borrow' me. The examiner finally allowed as some girls had come from far off places.
i started chatting with one girl.
We had to sit face to face. The examiner asked her what happened to her 'case' i defended her and pleaded the exminer to allow her to 'use' me as her case since she is a school teacher in Karaigudi, and traveled 400 kilometers for this exam. She asked the girl what she knows about me. She shook her head. The examiner bawled at her, in one minute this gentleman knows so much about you and you know nothing about him ? any way she was the last. i answered all her questions, she was writing, the examiner was sitting in between.
After questioning the girl said 'you can go' Arshi muttered 'bitch' she did not say one word of thanks, i said hahaha.
the other girls were fine. i made them happy too. Two other girls wanted to borrow me after that but the examiner did not allow them as they had already finished their 'case' with their moms.

now i have to type really weird letter in word verification uoohwngy

Rauf said...

it logged me in from my personal mail ID Ruth, rauuff gmail. that is why there is no icon

Rauf said...

Ruth when Arshi told me the points i scored, i was disappointed and she said lower the points i score higher the marks she gets, even that did not make me happy, i said
that means i am really a weirdo.
Sweet thing she is gave me a hug and then we ate, i think she took me for a movie 'chicken run' She is a sweet heart.

Ruth said...

Oh thank you for the story, rauf! Was this for Abnormal Psychology? Haha. Is your nickname "Abi Normal" haha?

The story is so good, I think you should pitch it to one of your filmmaker friends for a scene. It would be so perfectly overdone in a Baliwood production, a musical number!! The girls shooing off their moms, who look dejected and congregate in the hall. The abnormal "uncle" whom everyone grabs by the collar for their exam. Brilliant! Please pitch it!

We have to start planning. When I meet you some day, will you please arrange to have Arshi there too?

Rauf said...

hahaha ! this is what Marty Feldman does... abi normal

Mrs. M. said...

It's so funny to me that you don't see the beauty of your own handwriting! I think it is lovely. Especially in the "Chicken Soup w/ Rice" calendar you made for me.

Katy and I noticed at graduation time that yours and Kristen's handwriting is almost identical. Your cards arrived on the same day, and it was uncanny!

Do you think handwriting styles are genetic?

Rauf said...

Good question there by Mrs. M
i'll have to check
Your handwriting is beautiful Ruth,

my nephew's handwriting is atrocious.
He signed a cheque, i asked him
what blotch is this ? no mamadu its my signature he said.

Jennifer Eddie said...

Love your blog! Re your questions,it's been so long since I wrote a letter (or received one) and still believe that it's a wonderful thing to receive a handwritten letter rather than an email. You can tell so much from a person's handwriting and I worry that this will be lost through our reliance on technology. Sadly I think my handwriting has got worse from the lack of use. I love Comic Sans but also use Verdana on my blog - www.jennifereddie.com

Ruth said...

Mrs. M. thank you, and that's interesting about mine and Kristen's being similar. I think yours is beautiful too, and more consistent than mine. Do you still have that calendar?? I think about it from time to time. I had so much fun with that.

It seems as though family members do have similar writing. It's also interesting how handwriting changes over the decades. Like you can always tell an older person's writing. I think they were disciplined more in school to form letters a certain way in cursive.

Ruth said...

rauf, "mamadu" is such a cute word. Is it an affectionate term for anyone?

Ruth said...

Jennifer, how nice of you to visit and comment! I tried opening your page, but no luck. I'll try it at work where I have high speed.

Sometimes I wonder if the mail service will ever completely go away. I hope not. But it's strange to think about. They've gotten rid of many corner mailboxes around here.

Amy said...

Well, I'm not much of a writer and I don't have a blog, but I DO still write hand-written letters -- notecards, mostly -- thanks to Dennis' influence. There's something about receiving something in the mail, something you can feel and get excited about opening. It's sad to think of that ever going away thanks to technology!

I'm a bit of a pen hound as well and prefer gel rollers, specifically the Pilot Precise Gel Roller (P-700 - fine point). :-)

As for fonts, most of what I type is work-related, so I spend most of my time with Times New Roman or Arial (sometimes Verdana), but when I type out recipes at home, I use Lucida Sans Unicode (size 12 so that I can read it from afar!).

Heather said...

Hullo Ruth,

I don't often write handwritten letters anymore, but occasionally drop a notecard in the mail. I compose my poems on my laptop. No writing out in longhand for me anymore. I type blog posts in the blog software text box. My favorite font is Garamond 11 or 12 pt., but I often use Times New Roman for professional/work-related stuff. I love pens! I typically use Pilot Precise, but recently I've been using Pilot Precise Grip extra fine. The finer the point, the better for me.

One thing I wonder with poems and computers is whether a writer's "papers" will start to disappear. Draft-wise, I don't save files. I just keep changing one file until I like it enough to call it a poem. That can go through numerous "saves", but I don't save or date drafts.

Ruth said...

Amy, so you and Dennis write notes to each other in the mail? That is wonderful!

I collect postcards, and it's great fun to pull out my special box with postcards from different places and times, all sizes, and choose just the right one for someone special.

I agree that the finer the pen point the better. My handwriting looks worse using certain pens, it's strange, isn't it?

Just as we CAN'T ever lose real books to e-books, I also hope we never lose snail mail to e-mail.

Amy said...

Yes, Dennis started sending me cards in the mail shortly after we met -- and he always picks the BEST cards. I have a HUGE stack of each and every card and postcard he's sent over the past year. A wonderful collection!

As for our handwriting changing with different pens, I totally agree. I can't stand the way my handwriting looks (cursive or printed) with regular ballpoint pens.

Ruth said...

Oh goodie, Heather, I was hoping to hear from you. Garamond is a nice font. And yes, fine points!

Ruth said...

And Heather, that's an excellent point about a writer's "papers." Wow, I never thought about it. I guess watching Diane go through this is an important experience, and one that may not continue. It's quite sad to me.

mystic rose said...

ah, ruth, you odnt have to reply to this comment since the post si so far back.. but I have recently been writing a lot and so fel like answering. I like writing on the laptop too... but i think very fast so writing long hand is easier for me, to keep pace. Nowadays though Im finding I can do both.. type or write. GEL roller inks are what I like to use.

I usually type out the post in notepad.. all the ideas and words and eveything,a s much as i cna get.. different versions of the same sentence some times, and then copy paste and edit to another notepad file.. the final version of how it should look and then post it and do the spell check there before I publish.. :).

Interesting, how everyoen has their way of working.

I am, however discovering the pleasure of writing poems long hand. :)

Ruth said...

Mystic Rose, I'm glad you left a comment here. Thank you for sharing your process.

I love the idea of writing longhand, but my wrist is so sore, the thought of it gives me pain. Enjoy it. :)