Is the demise of the typewriter responsible for email overload?

Wednesday November 28th, 2012, 12:05 am

As the last typewriter rolls off the production line I am filled with sadness.  I loved the clatter of the keys and the whiz of the carriage as you pushed it across.  Here is a wonderful video for  those who yearn after these sounds which to me equalled creativity and thinking.  There was little scope for making errors unless you wanted either to type the whole page again or cover yourself in Snowpake corrector fluid.  You had to plan what was to be typed before hitting the keys.

I blame the demise of the typewriter on the insidious rise in Cc’d email and hence email overload.  In the era of the typewriter you could only make a limited number of carbon copies.  Typing a memo therefore did not give you the option to flood everyone’s in-tray (inbox) with trivial memos and replies and counter replies.

The effort of typing a reply also meant you used your time carefully and again cosidered what was to be said and how it should be laid out.  You also thought hard about the length of the memo (unless you could touch type).  The death of the typewriter may therefore also be partly to blame for the often appalling level of grammar and English we now witness in electronic communications, not to mention bad email etiquette.

Then there is RSI. Did anyone ever complain of it with a typewriter?  No.  Did you need to be connected to use one? No.  Did you need to upgrade every year or so?  No.  Your portable typewriter was like a faithful companion, always there ready to go and help you produce that new column, manuscript, letter etc.

There have been several obituaries to the typewriter amongst my favorites of which are Oh Brother, where are thou? by Will Self in The Times  and Typewriter’s block  in the Financial Times.

What do you miss about the typewriter?



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One response to “Is the demise of the typewriter responsible for email overload?”

  1. darrenslade says:

    It’s not RSI exactly, but when I used a typewriter all the time, I had a
    large but painless lump made up of accumulated fluid on the back of my
    left wrist. It disappeared when word processors came along and I sort of
    miss it.

    I also miss the clacking of keys, the ting of the bell and
    the satisfying experience of snatching the paper out of the roller and
    throwing it into the bin when things were going wrong.