We are the proud owners of the coolest toy ever — an old IBM Selectric typewriter.
We rock, baby.
We landed the typewriter from a sweet neighbor who was downsizing. The machine had been kept in perfect condition for some five decades.
We lugged the heavy chromium green monster into the house, heaved it up on the kitchen table, removed the dusty cover, plugged it in and listened to that kitty purr.
Music to our ears.
We inserted a piece of paper, and I typed a few lines. My fingers flew, and the little round ball spun wildly, flinging letters onto the paper. It worked like a charm. Except for the typos. I’d need some of that correction tape. Do they sell it anymore?
The next day, some of the grands arrived, immediately noticed the odd-looking machine and cautiously circled it.
“What is it?” one timidly asked.
“What do you think it is?”
“Well, it sort of looks like a computer. It has the same letters on it.”
“It’s an electric typewriter,” I said.
“No, a typewriter. Watch this,” I said. I sat down in front of it.
I turned it on. It started to hum, and they all jumped six feet in the air.
It was like the first time man saw fire. Frightening, but intriguing.
I typed a few lines, and they all oohed and aahed.
“What?” one of them exclaimed. “You don’t need a printer?”
“No! It prints as you go! Isn’t that incredible?”
They were spellbound.
“What will they think of next, right?” I asked.
“See this silver ball in here? There are four others just like it, each one with a different type font.”
“Whoa!” they shouted.
A few feet away sat my laptop, a high-speed computer with hundreds of fonts, auto-correct, spell-checker, grammar-checker, a built-in dictionary and thesaurus, linked to a laser printer that can crank out 20 pages a minute.
They all clamored for a turn in front of the new-fangled, incredibly fascinating machine called a typerider.
“Form a line,” I shouted. “Single file! Single file.”
The first one tapped a key, paused, then tapped another and another, picking up speed. She hit return, watched the little silver ball fly back to the left side of the page, squealed with delight, and started again.
Why hadn’t we shown them this marvel before? Could their mom and dad get one, too? Does Amazon sell them?
One after another, they ripped paper out of the typewriter and came running to show us what they had written.
“Beautiful!” I said, looking at askdjdklfeiruodsdkmdkdfjlf djskfjdljlskdjddkkdd. “Read it to me!”
“One day there was a mermaid. She was a pretty mermaid.”
“I think you have a writing career ahead of you.”
They all howled when it was time to turn off the machine. The best-sellers hidden inside them would have to wait for another day.
We assured them the typewriter would be waiting when they returned. In the meantime, we’re looking into whether we can hook up an old tabletop rotary dial phone salvaged from the 1950s. They’ll be ecstatic.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.