Typewriters and tech nostalgia

I really like typewriters. Or, I really like the idea of typewriters.

It’s totally impractical and I doubt I would really use it, but I am spending too much time this week looking at cool, vintage typewriters.

My fascination goes back to my Nietzsche days (be sure to check this article from Open Culture, “Behold Friedrich Nietzsche’s Curious Typewriter, the “Malling-Hansen Writing Ball”) and his own ode to the typewriter ball:

“THE WRITING BALL IS A THING LIKE ME:

MADE OF IRON YET EASILY TWISTED ON JOURNEYS.

PATIENCE AND TACT ARE REQUIRED IN ABUNDANCE

AS WELL AS FINE FINGERS TO USE US.”

This article (The Saturday Evening Post: “Why (and How) I Use a Typewriter”) sums things up well, especially this part:

“And after using a computer keyboard for over 30 years, typing on a typewriter is hard. I haven’t used a typewriter since the 1980s, and it really does take some time to get back into the swing of things, to get a rhythm going, for your fingers to remember how to press those keys. Sometimes the next key seems so far away.”

typewriter at Cambridge museum of technology

Thanks to a visit to the Cambridge Museum of Technology, I had a chance to time travel a bit. I love the tactile experience and that sound. Maybe with a little more gumption I could train myself to be quick on it, but writing on a typewriter will stay a nice, impractical fantasy for now.

After that analog typing experiences, I started to obsess over in-between options. I’m intrigued by creative ideas like the Qwerkywriter (see also: Review: Qwerkywriter, the Bluetooth keyboard that thinks it’s a typewriter via 9to5Mac).

ipad typewriter

The combination of the digital conveniences of word processing and the tactile keyboard experience is really tempting, but I’d also hate myself a little if I ever spent that much on a keyboard.

I’m going to stop looking at gadgets online, but before I go, here’s a good read by Emma Brockes at The Guardian on some of the tech-nostalgia likely at play: “Why you want your old iPod back. And that typewriter. And an Etch A Sketch. And…

Archives

Surprise me

About

I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

What I’m Reading Now:

Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg

Related Articles

Have questions or ideas or requests for working together?

Get in touch