Thursday, September 4, 2008

Do Kids Today Even Know How To Use These Things?

When I was 8 years old, I asked for and received a typewriter for Christmas. How many kids you know would ask for something like that? Yes, I know, I was a geek from an early age! I can't remember why I needed one so badly, but as you can see, I was very happy to have it. I knew nothing about typewriters, but ever since the age of 6 when I learned to read books on my own, I always knew I would be a writer someday. I wanted to tell my own stories, you see. And so I guess I needed the right tools for the trade -- LOL!

It was a "starter" typewriter meant for young adults to learn the basics. I sat there and copied everything I could find -- newspapers, pamphlets, and even Sunday school bible stories. In this manner I taught myself how to type.

When we moved in with my grandmother and aunt, I graduated to using a professional typewriter -- it was a Smith Corona very much like the one pictured above, used by my aunt to type up term papers. I would sit there every Saturday afternoon and copy random Sherlock Holmes and Rudyard Kipling stories. Eventually I started typing my own created short stories, which back in those days were mostly single-paged ghost and detective stories. I even drew the illustrations, although I was a poor visual artist (that was more my younger brother's forte).

But now I wonder: what would 8 year olds think of a typewriter today? In this day and age of text messaging, iMacs, and wireless keyboards, do kids today even know how to use an old-fashioned typewriter? Would they know how to set an ink ribbon, or to hit a hard carriage return when the little bell sounded at the end of the line? Would they know how to manually set their own margins?

Ack, I feel old! Now I know how my uncle must have felt when he tried to explain 8-track music cartridges to us when we were very little. :-)


  1. For real, these kids today know nothing of change. Or real dedication to accomplishing something. I suppose our parents and their contemporaries thought the same about us to a degree but the technological advances make the differences glaringly obvious. We actually grew with the advancement of the whole computer era. Now it's commonplace to these kids. I mean the CD is almost obsolete today and that's still relatively modern. You have kids alive today don't know what a damn CD is, much less a cassette tape. So, you know, a typewriter is like an ancient relic to kids today. Shit, even to the generation right behind us! Crazy. Talk about a technological boom!

  2. how cute were you, david??
    so funny, i was *just* thinking about
    the short stories and poetry i used to type up on my typewriter. i didn't ask for it, but i think i used it the most. i don't know where it came from and i don't know where it went. =( how sad. that tap tap tap sound--there isn't anything like it.


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