[lbo-talk] Typewriters R.I.P.

Wojtek S wsoko52 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 27 08:03:59 PDT 2011

CB: "The first typewriter, a cylindrical machine known as a "writing ball," went into production in Europe in 1870. Remington started manufacturing typewriters in the U.S. three years later with the same QWERTY keyboard still used on keyboards."

[WS:] Which is a very interesting case of "path dependence." QWERTY was designed to slow the typist down to prevent jamming of certain keys, but it became so popular that it was used with new technologies for which jamming was no longer a problem. This is what I love about typewriters and hate about computers. In the typewriter design, the human user was the focal point, and technology was adjusted to fit the existing human skills and abilities. In computer design, by contrast, technological features pushed by manufacturers are in the driver's seat, and human operators must adjust to fit these technological features or otherwise be lost. The ever changing design of Micro$oft Office menus or the touchscreen technology to improve the commercial appeal of an inherently inferior form factor are cases in point.

This is not an anti-technology rant - I would never even remotely consider dumping my computer for a typewriter - but rather a rant against proprietary solutions enabled by computer technologies being pushed by commercial interests and swallowed wholesale by the gullible pointa-clicka-nothinka public.


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