The Keyboards of Our Lives

by | Jul 11, 2016

I’ve been thinking about keyboards lately, you’ll see why in a minute.

The keyboard is a pretty amazing thing. Invented in the late 19th century along with the mechanism to imprint “type-writing” onto paper, keyboards first appeared as the operational end of the typewriter.

Up until that time, all writing by all writers, authors, novelists, historians, speechwriters—every one of them—was written by hand.

So the appearance of the typewriter signaled a true communications revolution. Soon typewriters were in use in business, academia, and were the very symbol of the new age of mechanical efficiency.

And there is something exciting about learning your way around a keyboard for the first time. Until then, watching someone else type is like watching a skilled musician coax beautiful music from a collection of metal, wood, plastic, and bone. Words appear, flowing across the paper—or the screen these days—making arguments, entertainments, or simply shopping lists.

Because I’m older than you are, I learned to type on a manual typewriter in typing class in high school. The keys had no letters on them, they had been covered up because it was a “touch typing” class.

Virtually the entire class consisted of us practicing repetitive letter combinations on the massive Royal and Remington typewriters bolted to the wooden desks in the typing room. It was pretty noisy.

There’s a lot of history and lore to the invention of the typewriter, as well as lots of arguments for and against the “QUERTY” keyboard arrangement we’ve all had to learn.

But that’s not my interest today.

A Personal History of the Modern Keyboard

No, what interests me as a writer is the keyboard as a tool to move my thoughts from my head onto paper (in the case of typewriting) or even more remarkable, move them from the physical world into the digital world.

Because that’s what we do with our keyboards.

No one has yet devised a more efficient way for us to transfer our thinking to the digital realm, where it can be edited, manipulated, re-arranged, and analyzed in many ways.

That day will surely come, but until then writers everywhere will rely on their keyboards as the most used piece of equipment in ours arsenal, the one that we are physically in contact with most of all.

This past week I acquired a new computer, and with it came a new keyboard, the latest in a very long line of keyboards that have responded, for better or worse, to my banging on them.

Here’s a brief overview of my own history with these pedestrian objects. I’ve got boxes full of keyboards in my garage, and I hardly notice the ones I use. Yet they have carried the over-1-million words I’ve written on this blog. They allow me to send my (formatted and edited) thoughts to you, no matter where you are in the world.

Although I’ve got a lot of keyboards to show you below, there are so many more that exist only in my memory. I’ve worked on Wang word processors, the original Apple II, and so many others it’s hard to remember. I bet you have a history all your own with keyboards.

Here’s a look at mine.

Keyboards of My Life

Royal Typewriter

typewriter

Royal HH Typewriter, 1956.

This is very similar to the typewriters I learned to type on, with one big exception: it has letters on the keycaps. In typing class, these were covered so you were forced, from day 1, to “touch type” and a good deal of the entire course was spent on repetitive drills to teach us the keyboard. This is a substantial, heavy piece of machinery, and it took a lot of effort to hit the keys hard enough to make a clean impression. My career as a “banger” began.


Linotype keyboard

linotype

Linotype keyboard


My dad worked on these more than I did, but they are interesting for a couple of reasons. The linotype was a machine that cast lead slugs of type, one line at a time. Because they had no “shift” function like we do on our keyboards, they had a separate keyboard for lower case, one for small caps, and one for capital letters. (Also note the “quadder” on the right for setting flush right, flush left, or centered copy.)

Olivetti Lettera

typewriter

Olivetti Lettera

This is my favorite manual typewriter of all time. It was, in its day, the “laptop” version of a desk typewriter, and was used by many journalists and correspondents. It has a lovely zippered case, can take a beating, and is remarkably light. I wrote my first book on this exact machine, both the first and second drafts. Then I went and bought my first computer!

IBM Selectric Typewriter

typewriter

IBM Selectric typewriter

Without a doubt, the ultimate typewriter, the apotheosis of what a typewriter could be. Gone are the awkward keys that always stuck and slowed you down, gone is the klunky design, gone is the carriage moving back and forth. To this day, I’ve never operated a machine that was smoother or more enjoyable to work on than this one, and I held onto one of these beauties until a few years ago. It eventually morphed into the IBM Selectric Composer, a real typesetter with a memory function, one of the first of its kind.

AM Comp Set

AM Comp Set
One of the first commercial phototypesetters, the 1980 AM Comp Set could keep over 2,200 fonts online and boasted a memory of 80 K (“more than double any competitive machine”). It ran with floppy drives and 8″ floppy disks–and they really flopped. I ran one of these at a large financial services company in New York, and it was the first time I experienced the connection between “coding” the material to be set, and the phototypesetter’s output of a graphic arts element. This connection of coding to art would blossom soon thereafter.

Linotype CRTronic

keyboards

Linotype CRTronic 360


In a classic move of bad timing, I acquired one of these early desktop typesetting workstations and all the photo equipment necessary to do my own phototypesetting when I had a design business on Fifth Avenue in New York. Bad timing, because about a year later the IBM PC came out, rendering all of these $37,000 terminals lovely piles of obsolescence. But, you still had to pay for it—perfect!

IBM Model F Keyboard

keyboard

IBM Model F Keyboard circa 1981

Later, its successor, the Model M would become one of the most popular and widely-used pieces of business equipment in the history of the world. But this was the original, the one that started the “computer revolution.” I spent many hours banging on these keyboards, and they are not like what you know today. They are mechanical with actual springs under each key that give a very crisp “click” when they break into action. The solid feel of the keyboard, the excellent materials, and the audible feedback combine in this keyboard to create a classic of the art. These keyboards are so revered, you can even buy one today, retrofitted for today’s USB connectors (see Resources at the end).


Apple Pro Keyboard

keyboard

Apple Pro Keyboard


When I switched from IBM PCs to Apple Macintoshes, I got introduced to the Apple keyboards. This one was fairly comfortable, and with all the keys you could possibly want. The styling matched the clear cases of the Macs of that era.

Apple Wireless Keyboard

keyboard

Apple Wireless Keyboard


I’ve probably typed more words on this keyboard than on any other. I used one for years with my iPad, then used them with my iMacs. It’s a small, lightweight, minimal but functional keyboard. These Apple keyboards don’t have a numeric keypad, which can be handy, but they are incredibly light to carry around. My only problem has been the huge number of AA batteries I’ve been going through the last few years. Both from an ecological and financial point of view, I needed a change.

Apple Magic Keyboard

Apple Magic Keyboard

Apple Magic Keyboard, 2016


And that brings us to today. With my new iMac, I decided to skip the wireless option, skip the dropped Bluetooth connections and low battery alerts and go retro with a wired keyboard and mouse. Boy, am I glad I did. This new (2015) Apple keyboard is the most minimal piece of equipment I own. It’s much slimmer than the wireless, since it needs no batteries.

Apple keyboard

Apple Magic Keyboard.

The most minimalist keyboard I’ve ever used, it feels like a thin slab on your desk. It has a silky feel that’s delightful, and although I may be kidding myself, it feels appreciably faster than my old keyboard.

Stroking, Not Banging!

Here’s a story: A few years ago I headed down to the Apple store to complain about the Apple Wireless keyboard I was using at the time. I found an older woman who worked there and told her how the keyboard hurt my fingers, and did they have anything else?

She looked at me for a minute, then asked, “Did you learn to type on a manual?”

“Sure,” I said.

“That’s your problem,” she said. “You’re banging on the keys, because that’s what you learned on those big metal typewriters. These keyboards aren’t made to be banged on.”

“No?”

“No. Try tapping the keys. Even better, try stroking them. Don’t bang them and your fingers won’t hurt!”

And, of course, she was right. I’m trying, really I am. Although old habits die hard, I want you to know that my new Apple Magic keyboard really rewards stroking.

Writers should appreciate their keyboards. They are the workhorses that allow us to transmit our words and ideas. Here I sit in my office in San Rafael, tapping away these words for you.

Do you have a favorite keyboard? Tell me about it in the comments.

Credits and Resources

Buy a USB IBM Model M Keyboard
History of the IBM Model M Keyboard

Postscript: Some time after this post was written, I ended up buying two new keyboards. For the story, see: Writer’s Tools and the Forgotten Keyboard

IBM Selectric (green): Steve Lodefink https://www.flickr.com/photos/lodefink/4317923430
CRTronic: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/Linotype_CRTronic_360.jpg
Apple Pro Keyboard (black): CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16768
Apple wireless keyboard: By RoadmrOwn work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3160133
Apple wireless keyboard (side view): By RoadmrOwn work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3160142

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45 Comments

  1. Replacement Laptop Keys

    For someone who wants to know about all aspects of keyboards, this is the perfect post. Your efforts in collecting such useful information about keyboards are appreciable. This post is an all-in-one package.

    Reply
  2. David Poleshuck

    The Linotype was my favorite keyboard. What? Look at the below. It was ETAOIN SHRDLU! The first two rows were keyed with your index fingers and they were the most common letters in the English language.

    You moved both hands to the left or right and even more important your hands were not held claw like but spread out naturally. I never knew a Linotype operator who complained about his fingers. Of course nobody had ever heard of carpal tunnel either.

    I thought of finding a keyboard and wiring it for a computer but I was too late. I would have to purchase a whole linotype machine to do it.

    Here is a photo!
    https://archive.org/details/LinotypeKeyboardPractice/page/n13

    Of course, since I started in 1967, most of my time was spent on the QWERTY keyboard.

    What do I use today? As I aged, I found I was typing slower and making more errors. I was at a computer store about four years ago and looked at the gaming keyboards. When I realize they still made noise and I could feel the click. I found one where you could turn off all the lights on the keyboard and my typing speed and accuracy went way up again.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      David,

      Thanks for your lovely reminiscence. Of course, the reason you took to the gaming keyboard, I suspect, is that they are some of the few mechanical keyboards in the retail market today. My father, who operated a Linotype during his days as a printer, shared your affection for the idiosyncratic keyboard layout.

      Happy keying!

      Reply
  3. R Coots

    I’m a baby. So very young. I learned on Apples and PC and didn’t know the difference in what my schools had until much later. Internet had just gone public, floppy discs stacked up in piles, and they had us learning typing on the old Apple computers that were monitor and processor in one tannish box (I don’t remember the model name). I have since gone through several of my own computers, all my drafts live in Dropbox instead of floppies, and Logitech supplies my keyboards. Chiclets yes, because moving my fingers between the big keys of a traditionally styled keyboards makes my hands scream and residual effects of my RSI surgery flare horribly. Yay for chiclets!

    Reply
  4. Marjorie Hembroff

    I learned to type on one of those old manual typewriters and wasn’t very good at it. For a while thought I would never master typing. Then along came computers that seemed to make everything easier. Now I no longer pound those keys but gently tape them.

    Reply
  5. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    Ah, the IBM Selectric. No comparison. I use a Unicomp keyboard that has the same ‘feel.’ My daughter wonders why I, who am so noise sensitive, can use it. But I love it – nothing else is really typing.

    The chiclets you can keep.

    Reply
  6. michael n marcus

    From Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults)
    ++++++++++++

    Eighth grade was decision time. Fourteen-year-old children were supposed to choose their life’s path. Would they wear blue collars, or would they wear white, or maybe pink?
    Inherent to the decision-making process was exposure to basic training in three directions.

    To try out a life in house-building, factory-working, or car-fixing, we (boys only, of course) had brief courses in mechanical drawing, printing, and woodworking. Our white collar life sample was a short “Language Exploratory” course in an arbitrarily selected foreign language. After studying Spanish, French or Latin for five months, we were supposed to know if we wanted to go to college. For the other five months of the school year, all eighth-graders had typing class, to prepare for a career in an office or beauty salon or maybe the military. It was confusing.

    I had started sort-of-typing around age ten, on a very old Remington with sticky keys that my father had brought home from his office. Like most beginners, I began with the basic index-finger hunt-and-peck method, and had advanced to pretty quick two-fingered typing when I was given my very own Royal portable at age 13.

    By the time we started “Business Exploratory” (a.k.a. typing), I was a very fast six-fingered typist. I didn’t always use the same fingers for the same keys, and had no idea where the “home position” was or why it existed, but I typed well, and seldom peeked at the keys.

    My teacher (a nice lady whose name is lost to history) was faced with a major dilemma. Even though I did everything the wrong way, on the first day of class I was already typing faster and more accurately than my class was expected to type after five months of instruction.

    To make it worse, she knew that if she tried to force me to type correctly, I would inevitably type more slowly, make more errors, and maybe sprain a wrist. Maybe I’d even sprain two wrists.

    Since she recognized that I was heading for college, not a career in business or hairdressing, and would probably never need to touch a keyboard after eighth grade (HAH!), my enlightened teacher gave me an easy “A,” and let me sit and read a book propped up on the typewriter until the course ended.

    [These days I type with just four fingers (but I still have ten) on keyboards with jumbo black letters and numbers on yellow buttons. I remove the CAPS LOCK buttons so I don’t tap them by accident.]

    Reply
  7. Jacquelyn Lynn

    Loved this trip down Memory Lane. About 18 years ago, a friend introduced me to ergonomic keyboards. Took a little getting used to the curved, split design, but I have much less hand/wrist strain and fatigue.

    Reply
  8. Dave D

    The first keyboard I used on a regular basis was the one that was incorporated into the best-selling computer of all time, the Commodore 64 ‘breadbox’ computer.

    And I actually have a complete Linotype keyboard in my garage I don’t know what to do with – it has the added bits for a Fairchild TTS attachment, and yes, it also includes the delivery lever that would be down in front of the quadder attachment in the picture you show.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Dave,

      Not much demand for those Linotype keyboards these days. I knew a man who had a Linotype museum in downtown Los Angeles, but that was a long time ago.

      Reply
      • Marcin

        Finally found someone who knows anything about these machines! I am cleaning my parents’ house at the moment and don’t know what do with Linotype CrTronic 360. Any ideas what can I do with them? I am based in Europe. Thanks!

        Reply
        • Joel Friedlander

          Marcin, the CrTronic is only useful as a museum piece today, so you might look for collectors, museums, universities, or Linotype themselves. Good luck!

          Reply
          • Marcin

            ah, that’s what I thought! thanks for the quick reply Joel!

  9. Ria Stone

    Thank you, Joel, It’s articles like this that keep me coming back to TheBookdesigner.com. What a wealth of information!!!

    I recognized and have used many of the keyboards you mention but I think I was most proficient, as a typesetter, on the Compugraphic 7500. http://riastoneblog.blogspot.mx/2015/06/lets-thank-johannes-gutenberg-for.html

    I, too, bang on my keyboard. Actually, I have the keyboard settings set to make a sound because I need to hear the keys :-)

    Note: comment typed on a macbook air using a U.S. International keyboard. Because I bought the device in Mexico, it has a Spanish keyboard. What appears on the keys is not necessarily what you get when you use the key :-)

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Ria,

      Never worked on a Compugraphic, but I remember them. Thanks for the link.

      Reply
  10. Hugh

    Those are some beautiful machines right there in the photos.

    But what astounds me is how few writers know that there are many outstanding keyboard options available today.

    You can buy, or build, or have someone else build, a mechanical keyboard that will last the rest of your life, for a very reasonable price. There are different weight switches, so the keys can be super easy to press for the lightest touch, or super hard to press for those who want to bang on them, old style. They can be (reasonably) quiet, all the way up to super typewriter clacky. You can program all sorts of amazing shortcuts into them, use Dvorak or Colemak or Qwerty or anything else you choose, and even make up your own layout.

    We don’t have to type on cheaply made keyboards — and more than 99% of us are, including almost all us writers who THINK our Apple or Logitech or Microsoft keyboard we went out of our way to buy.

    For writers, the keyboard, not the computer or its software, is the main point of contact with our world. And yet we mostly stick with the worthless piece of plastic that came with our $2000 computer, because we don’t know any better. For as little as $50, you can buy a basic mechanical keyboard with nice clicky switches and the same Qwerty layout you’re used to. Or you can start spending from there, and get all sorts of customization, some of which is pure aesthetics, and some of which will make your life immeasurably better. Nobody likes RSI. Look into mechanical keyboards, people.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Well said, thanks Hugh. That’s really what inspired me to write this: the intimate contact we have with these devices.

      Reply
  11. Michael Lantrip

    I have a wonderful little Penguin book, “quirky QWERTY” by Torbjorn Lundmark. ISBN 0 86840 436 5 (hc.) and ISBN 0 14 20.0270 4 (pbk.) The sub-title is “A biography of the typewriter and its many characters.” The book is perfect! And Lundmark is one of the most interesting persons I have ever read about. I hope you can find a copy. Copyright 2002.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Michael, I just ordered the book.

      Reply
  12. Dale Archibald

    My grandfather had a 1917 Underwod, and I learned to hunt and peck on that. Later typing in my ’50s high school, and on to linotype, paper tape typesetting, laser disc, Smith-Corona, Model D IBM with the electric sliding platen that sounded like thunder when it roared across the page to a new line, Apple II Plus, Epson, and now H-P. Thanks for the memories.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      You bet, Dale. Quite a history there.

      Reply
    • Tari Akpodiete

      oh yes, the Underwood. i learned to type on that, then they moved us over to the IBM selectric.

      Reply
  13. George

    The IBM Model M was wonderful. But what would it be, without WordPerfect? The writing crime of the 20th century was Microsoft’s invention of the Common User Access interface – i.e., function keys on top just because Bill Gates didn’t want to do anything to give WordPerfect a future. And while I’m about it, the second greatest crime against writers was the mismanagement of WordStar by MicroPro which cut short what could have been a glorious evolution. We’re STILL waiting for a word processing application that enables writers to work efficiently. Reach for the mouse? Not in my house – first thing I do with every MS Word install is give it WordStar-like editing keys using keyboard customization and macros.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      George, good to know the war that raged when I first enlisted is still going strong. Remember the character mode vs graphical interface wars? I’m also a committed keyboard user, and loved that original Model F and Word Perfect’s use of the function keys.

      Reply
  14. Meredith Gould

    Ah, memories. My Royal portable was the one my father bought used after being discharged from the Army in 1943? 1944? He decided buying a typewriter with his discharge money was smarter than buying clothes. I learned how to type on it during the 1960s and still have it. I also had that Olivetti model and the IBM selectric. Currently type on a Logitech wireless keyboard but always tempted to invest in software that reproduces typewriter sounds.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Software the reproduces typewriter sounds? Do tell. Drop us a link if you have one, thanks Meredith.

      Reply
  15. Valerie Brewster

    Wonderful article. My memories were tickled! One thing I used to like about the Quadex and CCI systems I used: you could store keystrokes under about 4 different keys. Very helpful for editing and formatting! This is a feature I wish we had in modern systems. Instead we have only one “cut and paste” storage area and have to use a text app or a library feature for the rest.

    Reply
    • Hugh

      Hi Valerie. Just so you know, there are many mechanical keyboards you can very easily program to do anything you want them to. If you choose to, you can change every single key to do something different. Options are limited only by your imagination, and these keyboards are a dream to type on compared to what we’ve all become used to.
      As little as $100 will buy such a thing. Mine cost around $300, totally worth it. These mechanical keyboards will outlast your next ten computers.

      Reply
  16. Phil Mayes

    That’s a fascinating insight into type-setting. Despite knowing the word “Linotype” well, I’d never seen a keyboard.
    As for the IBM keyboard, the columns of function keys at the left explain the still-existing weird key combinations like At-F4 to close a program. I ranted about this some time ago: http://philmayes.com/bad-computer-design-1-stupid-key-combinations/

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Phil, that’s one of the parts I left out. If you look at the Model F compared to the much more popular and widespread Model M, you’ll see they lay out the function keys very differently. At one time I taught classes in “Power Word Processing with Word Perfect.” You remember that program? It relied almost entirely on Alt- Ctrl- and Shift- with the 10 initial function keys. Many strange left hand contortions resulted in the years until the Model F went to 12 function keys and put them along the top of the keyboard.

      Reply
  17. Michele DeFilippo

    Thanks for the great memories, Joel. I started my typesetting business around the time the first Macs appeared. Within 10 years, all that remained of my three $40,000 AM CompEdit 6400 typesetting systems were the payments. Oh, well, at least we don’t have to breathe photo chemical fumes to produce books anymore. Though the technology has changed, the principles of good book design and well-crafted typography remain.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Oh, man, Michelle, I feel your pain. And I only had one! I think we can agree the tools we have to work with now are vastly superior, and it’s not that long ago.

      Reply
  18. Michael W. Perry

    Thanks for a marvelous look back. I’ll add another comment. About ten years ago, I discovered that I still had the manual, portable typewriter I’d used in college. Thinking I might find a use for it, I tried a little typing.

    The result was a total failure. I’d learned the light keystrokes of computer keyboards so well, I found it impossible to adapt back to the hard, inch-long stroke I had to make with a manual keyboard. We may never forget how to write a bicycle, but we certainly seem to forget how to use a manual keyboard.

    My gripe is with an educational establishment that, feeling that all kids need to be taught keyboarding, has decided that it must quit teaching cursive writing. Why? Both are useful and under a good teacher kids will love learning both skills. Cursive, we are now learning, if far better for note-taking in class than typing on a keyboard. We shouldn’t drop cursive. We should be dropping teachers so unskilled they cannot teach both in six years.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Michael, I think I’m jealous, because even today I haven’t been able to completely let go of that stroke I learned so long ago. And when I get excited about something I’m writing, I fear for these poor, petite keyboards as the pounding gets louder and louder.

      Reply
    • Bruce Arthurs

      Michael Perry, it’s not just cursive writing that’s suffered from from society now having a keyboard (of sorts) in every cellphone and pocket. My dayjob requires keeping daily activity reports, which are still handwritten. Even done with block printing, egad, a lot of employee’s handwriting is difficult to nearly impossible to read.

      I hate to sound like a grumpy old man defending his lawn, but yeah, it seems like the younger the employee, the less legible their handwriting is.

      Reply
  19. Jan Sikes

    I too learned to type on a manual typewriter and I remember how extremely excited I was when I landed a job where they had the IBM Selectric. Remember how you could switch out the balls for different fonts? I developed an amazing typing speed on that model typewriter that still serves me well today. Amazing how far we’ve come in less than 50 years!! Thanks for sharing, Joel.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Jan, I had a collection of those type balls, and it allowed you to create some great effects. They were the closest thing to real typefaces you could use outside of a print shop.

      Reply
    • Dave D

      Jan: You just reminded me of a secretary at one of the schools I went to. She had one of these Selectrics and when she really got going on that thing, that typewriter sounded like the static from a TV with no reception!

      Reply
  20. Jason Matthews

    Great fun, Joel. I wonder if anyone reading this uses the Dvorak keyboard instead of Qwerty? When I learned to touch type I wanted to get a Dvorak keyboard after some research suggested they were user-friendly by being more ergonomically correct. Turns out they’re pretty hard to buy unless you want a mold that fits on top of your existing Qwerty layout. In addition to the universal availability of Qwerty, my choice was made easy to go mainstream, but I’ve always wondered how Dvorak people feel about it?

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Jason,

      Since I never used the Dvorak keyboard, I didn’t include it, but it certainly has passionate fans. Maybe some Dvorak folks will chime in here.

      The other one I avoided was the Microsoft “ergonomic” wavy, segmented keyboard. But they are still around, too.

      Reply
      • Michael McFadden

        Re the ergo keyboards: I never would have tried one except for the fact that halfway through a 500 page book I suddenly developed a horrible carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist. I tried resting, braces, even Dragon Speak for a while but nothing helped (Dragon WOULD have helped if it was perfect, but even the small amount of corrective typing was painful.

        Finally, after reading a message that it had helped someone else I tried a decent quality ergonomic keyboard with a a nicely soft curve/split to it (Microsoft 4000) and a very comfortable supporter for the palms as they enter the wrist. The pain went away almost instantly AND the learning curve (which I had dreaded) turned out to be almost nonexistent. I would NEVER want to go back to a flat keyboard again in my life!

        Michael J. McFadden
        Author of “TobakkoNacht — The Antismoking Endgame”

        Reply
  21. Tonya Price

    What a fun trip down memory lane. I believe I’ve used all the same keyboards you have listed here, with maybe the exception of the keyboard I used on a PDP10 and 11 back in the 70’s.

    I too had trouble adjusting the original Apple wireless keyboard. In fact, it is sitting here next to my Apple extended cabled keyboard. The issue for me was the battery life, not the heavy typing. You have me wondering if maybe the wireless battery life is better now than when the keyboard was first introduced!

    Thanks for an interesting article!
    Tonya

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Wow, that’s amazing Tonya, we’ve had a similar path, I guess. I still use the Wireless keyboard, and the battery life isn’t bad. But when you have 2 right next to each other along with 2 wireless mice also burning up AAs, it gets a bit much.

      Reply
  22. Ernie Zelinski

    I too learned to type on manual typewriters in high school. It was in Grade 10 at Grassland school. At the time I wondered why I was wasting my time learning to type. Later I convinced my father to buy me a portable typewriter and I am glad I did. Because I learned to type proficiently, this sure has served me well since I became a writer.

    Regarding favorite keyboards: Although I like the keyboard on my two-year-old 13-inch Mac Pro with Retina Display, I prefer the keyboard on my new 14-inch Generation 4 Thinkpad Carbon 1.

    Speaking of QWERTY, you likely remember this Exercise from two or three decades ago.

    What is the longest word that you can make in the English language with the top row of the QUERTY keyboard?

    Q W E R T Y U I O P

    I actually placed this Exercise in my first ever self-published book called “The Art of Seeing Double or Better in Business” that I released in 1989.

    The answer apparently is “TYPEWRITER”.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hey Ernie, I had the same experience learning to type. What for? But I hadn’t gotten out of my teens before I realized what an advantage it was, especially back in those days. Thanks!

      Reply

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  1. Monday Must-Reads [07.18.16] - […] The Keyboards of Our Lives – The Book Designer […]
  2. Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 07-14-2016 | The Author Chronicles - […] There is perhaps no single piece of technology more central to a writer’s life than a keyboard. Joel Friedlander…
  3. The Keyboards of Our Lives - The Book Designer ... - […] I’ve been thinking about keyboards lately, you’ll see why in a minute. The keyboard is a pretty amazing thing.…

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