This week, the last typewriter built in the UK left the production line, marking the end of an era. The typewriter in question rolled out of the Brother factory, in north Wales and straight into a museum. I kid you not, Brother donated its last typewriter to the Science Museum, in London.

    Until I heard this news, I hadn’t even considered that people may still use typewriters, you know, to actually write on, let alone that the things were still in production. Oh, sure there must be the odd writer who insists on banging away on the old Underwood, but other than that, surely everyone’s too busy trying to find their tablet stylus down the back of the sofa or swype texting to worry about this loss.

    As a writer, I for one have never regretted the shift from typewriter to computer keyboard. So while the rest of the world bathes themselves in misty-eyed nostalgia, I shall give you five good reasons not to use a typewriter:

    1. ┬áNo Delete Key – the one utter failing of the typewriter is that you can’t go back. The lack of delete means you have to sustain an inhuman level of precision, as one wrong letter can render an entire page a complete waste of time. And before the typewriter fetishists pipe up to tell me about the white-out tape, I’ve already corrected my mistake using CTRL X and CTRL V and moved on.
    2. Writing on the Go – for anyone who wants to work on the move, a typewriter isn’t the way to go. Those things are heavy. There are portable versions, but even Steve Jobs couldn’t pull one out of an envelope.
    3. Typewriter Ribbon – yes, the ink-imbued ribbon that gives the typewriter its power. It is also the giver of inky fingers. Although I like ribbon, as a general rule, I can do without it being an integral part of the mechanics writing.
    4. Formatting is a Bitch – try creating a snazzy poster on a typewriter and you will fail, unless you are one of those people who can produce a scale drawing of the Houses of Parliament on an Etch A Sketch. There are no fonts to choose from, no automatic bullet points, tables, clip art and all the whistles and bells we have at our fingertips these days. There is only frustration and wasted time.
    5. Carbon Paper – these days we type a document and in order to provide a copy for all our colleagues, we either email it to them or print the required number. Not so on a typewriter. If you want a copy, you use carbon paper. Doesn’t sound so bad. That is, until you make a mistake on BOTH copies, SIMULTANEOUSLY. Oh the horror. I suppose you could type one and then photocopy it, but why would you? Isn’t that why dropbox was invented?

    So there you have it. Yes, typewriters are pretty, but they are also pretty impractical. I get the romance of clacking away at your desk, really I do. On a typewriter I can be Jack Kerouac with his pages taped together in one, continuous roll, creating the book that defines a generation. And once I’ve finished my manuscript, I get to type the most satisfying six letters in the universe, for a writer, ‘THE END’. But the reality is, writing on my PC is just better. It’s not arty and chic, but it gets the job done.

    No, when it comes to writing, I need speed and efficiency. I need my tool to be almost invisible. And if I need a more tactile approach, I pick up a pen and paper. I’m no more likely to invest in a typewriter as an aid to my writing, than I am a pen and quill. I shall stick to my well-worn computer keyboard, thanks and leave typewriters in the domain of irritating wedding couples with a nauseating fixation on reliving the 1930s for their special day and who require their guests to type equally nauseating messages as a memento of their nuptials.



3 Responses to 5 Reasons not to use a typewriter

  • venus factor wrote on September 23, 2014 at 8:11 // Reply

    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon. Many thanks

    • Chella wrote on October 1, 2014 at 10:01 // Reply

      Hi there – thanks for reading and letting me know about the IE issue. I will take a look. I just did a software update. That may help.
      Thanks again


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