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(This is a corrected version of an earlier post, no white out needed.)

I was in the library the other day paging through a book about famous architects which contained portions of their original manuscripts. Most of the manuscripts were what you’d expect: standard wordprocessed pages, with neat margins and carefully selected fonts. But one of these was different: it consisted of old-fashioned typewritten pages. I recognized immediately the type as it was identical to my own IBM Selectric’s from ages ago: the hard stamp of letters on the page, the slight bleeding of some letters at the edges, and the occasional irregularity of spacing between others, and immediately I felt nostalgic for typewriting. This reaction surprised me, since wordprocessing practically revolutionized typing. I mean, think of the advantages: No more careful insertion and reinsertion of paper until it’s just right, no more rolling up the platen, no more carriage returns, no more jammed up keys when you’ve typed too fast, no more carbons for duplicates (if we go way back), and no white-out corrections with the type sloppily floating on the still-wet fluid. And yet…when looking at those typewritten pages in the book, I felt real nostalgia well up inside me. Anyone born, say, after 1980 will probably never know the feel of raised type on onion-skin paper or the succinct satisfaction of a carriage return after each typed line, followed by a bright little “brinnngggg” sound—the subliminal sound of all things wonderful, such as an ice cream truck approaching or the timer going off telling you your brownies or cookies or whatever are done. And they will never know the feeling of pulling out that one labored-upon page and placing it on a stack of other typewritten pages (or, perhaps, as in old movies, crumbling it up and tossing it in the trash and starting all over again).

Anyway, even though the book was about famous architects and was filled with their profound musings about architecture, the only thing I took away from that book was the fond memory of pounding away on a typewriter, remembering the tactile pleasure of it all.

To readers: What from the dustbins of history do you find yourself missing?

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