Sunday, May 30, 2010


My first writing instrument was a Smith Corona manual typewriter that, like all the typewriters of its day, did not have a separate key for the exclamation point. Creating an exclamation point involved three steps: you had to type a period, then hit backspace, then type an apostrophe. This process took just enough effort to make you reconsider whether you really wanted to use an exclamation point at all.

Today it takes a mere keystroke to produce an exclamation point, and as a result you see them everywhere. Everywhere! Perhaps the inventors of the typewriter knew what they were doing. Perhaps the unwieldy design of those early machines was a futile attempt to regulate a form of punctuation that had so much potential for abuse.


Anonymous said...

I had totally forgotten that 3 step process!!! Boy, do I miss the ol' typewriter. Remember how it smelled like oil, (and mine: dust.)Cpop

Farmgirl_dk: said...

I didn't know this! (truly necessary exclamation point)
I really enjoy the tidbits you share. (ended with a period and resisting the urge...)

Tai said...

Farmgirl, what restraint you have! Whoops. Dammit. It's hard not to tap that ol' exclamation key, isn't it?

Fred (actually, I like C-pop): The scent of an old typer is unique. And remember the way it made the table shake when you depressed the shift key?

John said...

My UCSC roommate had an old Royal that we used to type up papers. That thing was a beauty. Smooth! I miss the *ding* at the end of each line, which made me feel like I was getting somewhere. Ding, click-click, zip!

Tai said...

Love the ding, John. And the zip of the roller.