“If you’re roughly my age, we may share some of these academic distinctions:
last or close-to-last class of students to attend various Cold War or pre-war era schools before their 90s and 2000s-riffic renovations. (Elementary school, high school, college)
last or close-to-last class to take a typing elective where actual typewriters were used. (9th grade, but I didn’t really learn to type until I started using AIM the next year.) Possibly the last class to even be offered a typing elective.
last class to run DOS in a computer applications class. (10th grade)
last class to run DOS-based email and instant messaging on campus servers. (college)”
What I didn’t mention was that before I learned to type (and before my family got our first home PC) we had a Brother word processor, a fantastic 80’s device that combined the functionality of a computer with none of the fun. Still, as a budding writer, I was mystified by the green and black interface and by the mechanical goodness of the printing process, which pounded out every word and punctuation mark with austere, efficient resolve. If you love the visceral feel of typewriter mechanics and, for whatever reason, the ability to edit typos before they actually print, brother, these things were for you.
I saw a featured post on the WordPress homepage today that took me back to the days of digital input and ribbon printing. Dr. J asks, and thankfully answers, the defining question of word processing’s transitional age: “Mr. Owl, how many spaces really DO go after the period?” One, he says. Just one.
Sir, I think I must respectfully disagree. See what I mean? Too close. Too close for comfort. My sentences need room to breathe, friend. Like this. And this. Maybe not this, though I was first taught to do three spaces. This just feels wrong. This is the good stuff.
Because I wanted to include a picture of a Brother word processor in this post, I found this excellent Craigslisting:
Brother Portable Daisy Wheel Word Processor – $35
Brother Word Processor WP- 2600 able to save document on discs, print, & see other worksheets, etc on the screen. Great for someone beginning to learn keyboard typing & doesn’t have access to computer. Prints & saves documents.
Whisper Print ultra quiet daisy wheel system
Standard 3.5″ 720KB disk drive for MS-DOS file compatibility with PC’s
Allows transfer to ASCII files
Allows conversion of spreadsheets to LOTUS 1-2-3 WK1 files
Double column printing
Icon main menu
Dual screen capability
Allows you to view two files simultaneously and exchange information between them
Easy to read 5″x9″ (15 lines by 91 character) CRT display with contrast adjustment
GrammarCheck I with “word-spell” 70,000 word dictionary and 204 programmable user words
45,000 word thesaurus
Easy access pull down menus
On screen help function
Uses Model 1030 correctable ribbon and Model 3010 correction tape
Bold and expanded print
Automatic “Word-Out” and “Line-Out” correction system erases a single word or a complete line
Automatic relocation after correction
Direct and line-by-line typing to handle labels and envelopes
Full line lift-off correction memory
Disk copy allows you to copy text from one disk to another
I’m not too enthused about the ultra quiet daisy wheel print system, but this post does a great job of showing us all the features that made these things practical for people who didn’t want or need a personal computer back in the day. What a fantastic hybrid of nineteenth and twentieth century innovations, you are, Word Processor. Even if you have no place in the 21st century market place, you’ll always have one in my heart. Shine on, you crazy diamond!
In honor of you, and of the icy, wintry mix outside, I offer proof of how badly we needed you:
Nickelodeon. The channel’s migration up our 80’s and 90’s dial is fixed in my memory: 27, 29 (later the Family Channel), 32, 34 (later Telemundo), 36 (or, as my sister called it, “three-six” as in, “oh brother, how about three-six!”), 42. I can’t even tell you what it is now because there are like seven of them, but they’re in the 260s and 270s, nimbly doing their thing around offerings from PBS and Disney. (Remember when you had to pay for the Disney Channel?)
The first time I saw Nick was at my grandparents’ house, a Special Delivery cartoon about the American Revolution (awesome). A few weeks later, at my other grandparents’ house, I discovered Nick at Nite. It must have been 1985 (the year Nick at Nite debuted), because I could read the word Nite but couldn’t figure out the context. In any case, it was way better than The Blanket Show.
A few days ago, I saw a commercial for the newest iteration of the Power Rangers franchise. The Zords are coming to Nick:
Yes, my first thought was: “Really, Power Rangers? 15 years later and you have the same exact production values? Even I don’t rock flannel on flannel these days.”
Speaking of 1993, I was 13 when Power Rangers debuted in the US. I think I was 15 when I decided to start being ironic. And it was on right before Animaniacs (smartest cartoon masquerading as kid’s show of all time? check), so, you know, I caught a few eps. Plus I had a little sister (which was also my excuse for watching Eureka’s Castle, though I’ll never disavow my love for David the Gnome). It didn’t take long to realize the four main reasons the Power Rangers became so massive:
Robots (that transform)
All of those things together
Production values? Uncheck. That old footage Saban had lying around happened to combine the three coolest things ever, and that’s all it needed. Speaking of which, later today or tomorrow I want to talk about two awesome blogs that I could spend hours and hours and hours on. Sports uniform history minutiae AND visions of a future that never was? Yes. Yes I will share that goodness with you.