Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

The Prodigy

Although I sat in the back of my 10th grade typing class and in no way resembled whatever image if any is conjured up when the word typist comes to mind, my teacher was absolutely delighted to discover there was a prodigy in her midst.

I’ve always felt it some sort of cruel twist of fate to be so gifted at something that is valued so little.

Like so many others, I worked my way through university. (For some reason we have to pay for our education. Of course, every society has its priorities, and ours happens to be this.)  Anyway, I had any number of jobs throughout the many years from start to finish – a decade in total – one of the most frequent of which was as a typist. Every job interview began with disbelief and ended in wonder.

The IBM Selectric was the Stradivarius of typewriters (though I had great respect for the Olivetti).  A picture of my instrument:

Selectric(Photographer: Oliver Kurmis)

It was not my first typewriter. In fact it was never my typewriter. My dad had his own business, much of the time operating out of our basement, so I had access to it. In grad school I was fortunate to be able to rent one from the library.

 My first typewriter was a Smith Corona. It was as cheap as the Selectric was expensive so it’s probably not fair to complain that the keyboard was like playing

696px-Ksylofon_ubt_0053(Photographer: Tomasz Sienicki)

instead of

Vibes_joelocke_koeln2007(Photographer: Nadja von Massow)

And while I always loved the sound of a typewriter forming words, others might prefer hearing the vibraphone, which I should add is a favorite instrument of mine.

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15 thoughts on “The Prodigy

  1. justmusing on said:

    And there is the lovely French film about the typist ..

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  2. Ahh. The typewriter, I’ll just explain to my kids what that was. My language remains older than my years – I always find myself referring to a ‘pocket’ calculator. That must go back to the first machine that wasn’t the size of a breeze block.

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  3. ‘This’ is more important than education? Fear, ignorance and greed are the biggest problems.

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  4. When I hit ‘that’ link I was surprised. It put a different angle to your post.

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  5. I belong to that small cohort of Generation X who had to take typing in high school but never used a typewriter AFTER high school. I’m a decent typist on the keyboard, which even at the time I was taking typing in high school I was using more often than the old stand-up.

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  6. I too worked as a typist though I didn’t feel as much for the machine as you. Personally I prefer the computer. It’s easier on the fingers and much, much easier to correct. The IBM Electric was pretty special though and made a great noise.

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  7. The computer does makes it easier to correct, but the keyboard to me has no feel.

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    • arjcee on said:

      Perfectly understood. I do find the Macbook Air keys and those on the Logitech diNovo come close to the feel of good old typewriters. The chunk-thunk-whack of them. Surprisingly the diNovo is the thinnest device of its kind, I believe, but the engineering of the keys is superb.

      Nothing has ever been the same for me since the Olivetti Lexikon 82, though! I can’t believe I pine for a typewriter, but I do. ;-)

      Like

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