Aug 9, 2011

The not-so way back machine

When I started in journalism, I used a phone and a computer that had no Internet connection. Sure we had a fax machine that spit out page after page of useless spam ads, and a modem that let us dial in to the local water district to get temps and rainfall totals, but there was nothing to pass the time when we weren't working.

And that was 1997.

Imagine what it was like in 1987! Heavy, bulky typewriters, rubber cement, hot wax, indoor smoking, and other forgotten horrors.

Well, the Journoterrorist set up an experiment to see what would happen:

Want to freak out a newsroom full of college journalists?
Sit them down at manual typewriters and ask them to plunk “2011″ onto a piece of paper. 
They’ll only make it halfway.“Mine’s broken!” one reporter at Florida Atlantic University yelled a couple of Saturdays ago, when we launched the inaugural ALL ON PAPER project. 
“There’s no number 1 key.” 
“This one is busted, too!” yelled another. 
“They’re not broken,” I replied. “Manual typewriters didn’t have a number 1 key. They used a lower-case L instead.”
The good old days. Oh, and here's a video (this is multimedia after all):


Anonymous said...

My life has officially become "history."

And I DID save some stuff from the olden days. I still have my pica pole and proportioning wheel. You never know when that stuff might be worth something on eBay.

Anonymous said...

Gary, I'm old enough I do remember those old days of typewriters, using copy paper and really cutting and pasting. But you're going to have to go back further than 1987. I think typewriters were pretty much gone by then. We had then what was known as the VDT or video display terminal. And we're still pretty much using that basic program.

I made the change from typewriters to computers in 1983. I think the newpaper I worked for made the change during the 1970s. The big change that occurred in the 1990s was the change in makeup, going from large boards with columns of type that were glued, they went to computers. This was called cold type.

The big change which I made in high school was from "hot type" to cold type. But good find in the article but in 1987, I think most people were no longer using typewrite to write stories.

Gary Warner said...

My class at Columbia J-school, 1983-84, was the last to use only typewriters. But the school was behind the times. Even the small Pennsylvania paper I started working at had ATEX. The real stone age machine of those days was the TRS-80 (TRASH 80 as we called them), which required you press the old phone handsets into a receptor upon dialing into the system. What a nightmare.