Before computers, we all had typewriters! 4



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Before computers, everyone used typewriters. It was a huge change when we had to go from typing out everything, key by key, on the machine, to typing on a keyboard attached to a computer monitor, then ask a printer to spit it out.

Back in the 60s, 70s and even up until the 90s, typewriters were the norm. It was almost unheard of for someone not to use one, however they disappeared quite quickly once computers took over.

Typewriters had been commercially marketed ever since the 1870s, with the Hansen Writing Ball.

The 1970s and early 1980s were a time of transition for typewriters and word processors. At one point in time, most small-business offices would be completely ‘old-style’ with only typewriters, while large companies and government departments would have changed to the ‘new-style’ with just word processors. The pace of change was so rapid that it was common for typewriting staff to have to learn several new systems. It’s hard to believe there once was a time when typewriting technology changed very little in 80 or 90 years, when now we’re used to rapid change.

Do you remember the instruments you had to use to help you? There was an eraser that was made of hard rubber that contained an abrasive material. Then came correction fluid which dried so it could be typed over.

The need for any sort of correction fluid or method at all changed when the IBM Electronic Typewriter series came along. These machines used a separate correction ribbon that could automatically backspace any errors and type over it.

By the time the 90s rolled around, businesses had changed to computers to do word processing. Nowadays almost no one except for collectors uses the once marvellous invention. Instead, we type everything we need into Microsoft Word or another program and press print. Sometimes we don’t even need to print it!

My how the world has changed….

Tell us, what were your memories of typewriters?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I remember learning to type in 1971. Our teacher was a true battle axe. Tables were a nightmare, especially when working out how to centre text. We had to be able to break words properly, dot points hadn’t been invented, and we had to type accurately without looking at the keyboards. Often we had to do 2 copies on flimsy letter head and two more on coloured paper. Correcting errors was a nightmare, specially using the typing erasers and a bit of paper between each sheet so that the carbon didn’t mark the copies when you erased. As for shorthand…. I could write a book about working in a typing
    pool -12 typists all using manual typewriters. The noise level would be an OH&S offence nowadays. Oh my goodness I could write a book!!!

    1 REPLY
    • But it would be so much easier and s pleasure to write that book on a computer these days. I learned in 1970 we must have had the same teacher or it was a prerequisite for the job. She was tough but we all graduated with high speeds and accuracy.

  2. have the same memories…I used to love typing Gestetners..using that pink nail polish stuff to correct errors…

  3. Pingback: Before Computers We Had Typewriters | Cleburne TX PC Repair

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