Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Typewriter Revolution dance



Here's a wonderful choreographic dramatization of The Typewriter Manifesto by On Stage Dance Studio of Stratford, Ontario!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Charles Portis: “black words fixed hard on white paper"



Source: "The Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth," Oxford American, 2005 (a very amusing story that riffs on the monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare cliché). Portis, best known for the novel True Grit, is said to have typed with two fingers of each hand on an Underwood.

Monday, February 17, 2020

My first ribbon — but not my last!



Insurgent: Jennine of Toronto
Poster artist: Ted Munk
Revolution slogan: Boston Typewriter Orchestra

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The revolution is global

It's gratifying to see my book and Manifesto crop up here and there, at moments when typists choose to resist the Paradigm. I get wind of some of these insurgent activities on Instagram (as I've said, the typosphere is in the Internet, but not of it).

At the Barrington, Rhode Island public library, teenagers can try colorful portables.



This event was made possible by dedicated typist Alayne White.



In Mexico City, poet Javier Tinajero (nuberrante or "wandering cloud" on Instagram) also embraces the Manifesto as he works on his Remington portable.



And in Toronto, Jennine celebrates a triumph: "This was my first ribbon, it will not be my last. Viva the revolution!"





Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A typecast for Mayor Pete




The streamlined fiberglass case:
The tajprajter in all its glory:



Saturday, February 1, 2020

The infamous Apple typewriter memo is 40 years old ...



... and typewriters still aren't obsolete!


A few memos about the memo:

Mike Scott served as the first CEO of Apple, from February 1977 to March 1981. His other fine judgments include trying to shut down the Macintosh project and firing 40 employees on so-called "Black Wednesday," a move that he claimed would make the company "fun" again. He himself was fired as CEO shortly thereafter. However, "Scotty" has enjoyed a brilliant later career as an expert on gemstones. The mineral Scottyite, a barium copper silicate, was named in his honor.

• Scotty's memo evidently was distributed on paper, using a pre-printed form. I assume it was typed on an Apple II, but I am not sure. Apparently his writing device didn't have spell-check (note the misspelling "priorty" and the three spaces between "and" and "convince").

• It's possible that "Ken" was Ken Rothmuller, who was the Lisa project manager at the time. But Mr. Rothmuller tells me that he doesn't recall the memo or using a DEC word processor, and that most of the Lisa team would have been using the Apple II for writing.  He is not aware of another Ken working at Apple in 1980, but it's possible that there was a Ken in the main building; the Lisa team worked in a different building. Mr. Rothmuller adds that although Scott was the CEO, Steve Jobs was actually making a lot of the decisions.

• Ken's Digital Equipment Corporation word processor probably looked something like this (source). (In the early '60s, DEC had developed one of the first word-processing programs, humorously called Expensive Typewriter.)



• "Apple II-Apple Writer Systems": Apple Writer (1979) was a word-processing application for the Apple II computer. It displayed text only in uppercase, though capitalized letters could be highlighted. What a beautiful advancement over typewriters, eh?

 

• "Apple high performance systems" just seems to be a general category that makes a vague promise about future advancements.

• Scott's phrase "direct typing capabilities" doesn't seem to exist anywhere outside this memo, but I think he meant the ability to type immediately onto paper, with no word processing intervening between the keyboard and the printing.

• Qume was a leading manufacturer of daisy-wheel printers. Did "Qume with Keyboard/Apple installations" mean a setup that allowed the Qume printer to function like a typewriter (immediately printing when you hit a key)? Qume did produce some computer monitors and keyboards at some point in the '80s, but I imagine Apple wouldn't be using those.

Four decades later, what has happened? Apple, of course, successfully developed the Mac, and found new prosperity and influence in the 21st century thanks to the iPod, iPad, and iPhone. There is an Apple II aficionado group on Facebook with over 7000 members. Typewriters have been relegated to the margins of business, but many businesses still keep one around. Electronic and manual typewriters are still manufactured. And the great, durable mid-20th-century typewriters are still clacking away....



Friday, January 24, 2020

Bonus bummer book review: Storybook Girlfriend, by Jeremy M. Brownlowe












I met Jeremy in Portland 5 years ago—with a recently shaved head (click pic for the story):



He has now completed his transition into a transgender man and has traveled widely typing poems for the public (see the collections Angels of the Underground and Typewriter Troubadour). Click the pic for his website:



Storybook Girlfriend can be bought here. You can download the Remington Noiseless font here.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

From fake to tattoo

By now, the typosphere is familiar with the fake typewriters made in China. (What, you're not familiar? Follow the "fakes" label at the end of this post.) As I've documented before on this blog, the fakes have generated successively more copies, which have become increasingly grotesque. Here's the sequence from a real Gourland typewriter to a copy of a copy of a copy:


But now I've seen it all. This is what I just spotted on Instagram (I will not divulge the name or username of the person who posted it, as I hope they will never realize what they have done to themselves).



The typewriter tattoo phenomenon, which is documented in my book, is kind of neat, in my view. It's like typing on your own body, and imprinting a powerful symbol of creativity and language on yourself. I'd get one, if my wife didn't hate tattoos in general.

But this person has—unwittingly, I assume—gotten a tattoo of a fake typewriter, complete with the weird little details that make no sense to anyone who has experience with real typewriters. The tattoo, a signifier of authenticity (indelible ink, pain, self-expression), has been undercut by the phoniness and superficiality of the notorious "Govrland."

O tempora, o mores.