I’m a collector of old computers. Like old friends I find them hard to discard.
“Aren’t you ever going to throw out that old Amstrad word processor you bought thirty years ago?” asked my wife.
“That keyboard and I spent a lot of hours together writing rejected manuscripts.”
“It’s collecting dust in our bedroom closet.”
“Yeah,” I challenged, “and I’ve got four more like ‘em in the garage.”
“Junk ‘em!” ordered my wife.
“I don’t throw old things I love away,” I said, “including you. But one more word and I may change my mind.”
The British-made Amstrad--that only a computer museum director has ever heard of--served me well. The additional four Amstrads, gifts from friends who advanced to real computers, proves you can never have too many spare parts. Just ask an orbiting astronaut with a broken toilet seat.
However, while working in education as a publicist, I advanced from a manual typewriter (I hate electric ones) to my first office computer, a Hewlett-Packard HP-150 in the mid-1980s that used a touch screen and introduced the 3-1/2 inch floppy disk drive to computers.
Most people claim touch screens didn’t exist then. They did. A Google search of Old Hewlett-Packard Computers will bring it up.
The small screen’s frame was circled with a series of tiny holes. When I touched the screen, it did what it was supposed to do: delete, highlight, spell check, or cut and paste. This was looooooong before the iPAD.
My HP was linked to a matrix printer that produced a sound like buzzing bees.
I eventually advanced to a 20-inch Mac desktop computer with more toots and whistles than a Mississippi paddlewheel. In recent years I’ve added a used Mac laptop, and now have a touch-screen iPad that came with my birthday.
I’ve failed to mention a strange little word processor laptop (it runs on three AAA batteries) purchased several years ago. It’s called an AlphaSmart, comes with a four-line screen, and hides in my car trunk. I often write with it while waiting in doctors’ offices and, later at home, transfer text via cable to my desktop.
If all else fails, including a power outage, there’s always my old manual typewriter wrapped in layers of plastic in my garage. And if I can’t find my typewriter, there’s always pencil and paper.
A three-day power outage did occur during my former job and I did use my manual typewriter, the only one in all the many offices. I was clicking keys while everyone else twiddled their thumbs.
The point of all this:
When it comes to writing, write on whatever you have, from a stone tablet or papyrus to the latest PC, Mac, or tablet. Just write, that’s the important thing.
And if all else fails, there’s always pencil and paper.