Why typewriters beat computers

The BBC offers a pleasant bit of retrophilia. (Thanks for the link, Robert.)

Mrs Huggins tried using a computer about 15 years ago and the memory is still raw. “I had four pages of instructions I had to learn, to send [my previous employers] the stories. Then the blooming thing blew up and they told me that it was my fault, and it wasn’t, it just burnt out.”

She says she can produce her stories at least as quickly as her rivals, because the risk of technical failure is virtually nil – she keeps a spare typewriter at hand – and because the typewriter encourages her to get the story right first time.

This may sound like an impossibly Spartan ideal, where cut and paste is done with scissors and glue, and deleted words remain on the page as angry little blobs. But for some left jaded and distracted by their smarty-pants computers, it is tempting.

The writer Will Self is a convert. He went back to using a manual typewriter several years ago. “I think the computer user does their thinking on the screen, and the non-computer user is compelled, because he or she has to retype a whole text, to do a lot more thinking in the head,” he said in a recent interview.