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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nifty Nostalgia

“The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon. ” ~Robert Benchley ~

Here’s a post you can archive under the heading of “Gizmos, Gadgets and Stuff.”

Does anyone out in cyberspace remember what it’s like to type on a real typewriter? No, I’m not talking about a word processor, or an IBM Selectric. I’m referring to the old fashioned, click-click-clack sounding typewriter that gave your fingers a true aerobic workout.

The third job I ever held, (before I came to the stark realization that I was not cut out to work nine-to-five in an office setting) was as a secretary for a real estate management company. The office I worked in was unique to say the least; it was like traveling back in time to the turn of the 20th century. Everything in the office was antique, including the owners of the company. This was a firm where I gained mastery over a key, lamp, and cord switchboard, and a real typewriter.

If you’ve never experienced either of these dinosaur office machines, you’re not missing much as far as the switchboard is concerned; they’re rather complicated until you get the knack of handling multiple calls and remembering who is connected on each line.

As far as a typewriter, that’s different. They were actually fun, and if you were having a bad day you could always pound hard on the keys to get your frustration out – plus they made lots of productive-sounding noise.

The only problems with a real typewriter, other than changing their inky ribbon, was when you made a mistake – you either had to use a chalky image blotting tape known as “Lift-off” or drown out your error (along with the carbon copied onionskin paper) with “Whiteout.” No matter how fast you were able to type; ribbons and errors really slowed the whole process down.

Well, guess what? Now you can have your nostalgia cake and eat it too; faster than you can say “Warp drive,” you can retro your PC, Mac or iPad so it functions like a real typewriter, but without the typical drawbacks.

Etsy artist Jack Zylkin has come up with an ingenious idea – a genuine typewriter that connects to your computer via USB port. The product is called a USB Typewriter.™

On Zylkin’s web site, he offers not only the typewriter for sale, but a retro kit for do-it-yourselfers, and if you consider yourself technically challenged or have your own typewriter to convert, just send it to him and he’ll customize your order.

Take a look at the video below. Rather nifty nostalgia I must say.

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