So time to confess. How many of you rolled your eyes when thinking of a clunky old typewriter? Chances are if you were born in the 1980’s or 90’s you were already hammering away on a word processor by the time you were old enough to know what typing was. For those of us that had to use an old fashioned typewriter or even the junkier, less reliable electronic ones, this is a trip down nostalgia lane. Tom Hanks is a professed lover of the typewriter and likely owns several of them just to satisfy his need to hang onto that particular piece of the past. As he’s been heard to say typing is a skill that he developed early on and came to realize would be a skill that would help him throughout the rest of his life. Is he crazy? Nope, and I’ll tell you why.
Here are a few good reasons why Tom Hanks is so rightfully in love with typewriters.
You can’t lose your data.
The wonder of a computer is that you input any type of data you want and it gets stored for whatever amount of time you desire. But what if your computer goes down? What if that data is corrupted? What if, what if, what if? The typewriter doesn’t lose data simply because anything that goes through your mind goes on the page. The only thing you need to do then is put your work in a safe spot and retrieve it whenever you need it. Flash drives and CPU’s can get damaged too easily by a wandering virus or other problem that typewriter doesn’t need to worry about.
You can’t be hacked.
It’s all about connectivity. You don’t get to network on a typewriter which means you actually have to go out and talk to people in order to network. Gasp, is that possible? Hanks describes this as keeping your data safe from the forces of evil, and unfortunately he’s kind of right in this day and age. Anyone with a serious lack of ethics and a computer can do some serious damage to your PC. But they can’t touch a typewriter, so your data is safe and secure.
It’s a simple machine.
So long as you keep it cleaned, oiled, and learn how to re-ink or replace the ribbons the machine will stay faithful to you until the day it no longer functions. Typewriters are very simple machines in that they don’t require a whole lot of maintenance most of the time and unlike a PC they don’t need a Geek Squad that will charge an insane amount of money per month to be on call to fix all your problems. However you treat the typewriter will determine how it responds to your needs.
So the next time you look at the old, clunky-looking typewriters with any but respect keep in mind that at one time those were the hi-tech tools of the trade. Without them the PC would likely not be what it is today, and much of what we as writers do would have been influenced in a very different way.