Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Language: Putting Ideas on Paper

I had a real problem writing as a kid. My handwriting was rather bad. It still is. That however wasn't the real problem. The problem was that I couldn't write fast enough to keep up with my brain.

What made life easier was the computer. Or more correctly - the keyboard. I developed a self-taught hybrid hunt-and-peck / reasonable-facsimile-of-touch-typing technique that allowed me to get ideas out of my mind fast enough. Without the keyboard my life would by much more difficult. The idea of a mechanical mechanism that helps us transfer our ideas to paper or a computer should be considered one of the greatest inventions of all time in my opinion.

However unlike some other inventions that seem to be the work of a lone genius the typewriter has a long and detailed history.

If you want to hear some of that history may I suggest you take twenty minutes to watch The History of the Typewriter recited by Michael Winslow. You'll be mesmerized and speechless. It's hard to stop watching what can only be called a tour de force of the highest order. There is a review of the movie that gives a few details and there are some behind the scenes photos online as well.

As Michael Winslow shows so well, the typewriter has gone through many incarnations over the years. Now we don't use mechanical or electrical typewriters. We use keyboards attached to computers. That doesn't mean there isn't a great deal of technology behind the humble keyboard. If you want an in-depth overview of modern keyboard technology from the cheap and nasty to the sublime may I suggest the Mechanical Keyboard Guide by Manyak in the overclock.net forums.

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