A walk through any toy store will reveal dozens of toy computers, laptops, cell phones and even tables. Back in the day though, we had toy typewriters.
Two things struck me when I ran across this toy in a local antique mall last weekend: the fact that it’s a typewriter, and the fact that it’s made of metal and covered with sharp edges. The thought of selling a children’s toy today made out of metal and covered with sharp edges seems foreign to us, but back in the day it was actually pretty normal.
I thought about picking this up before I saw the price tag, at which point I realized I could probably buy at least 50 used typewriters for the same amount of money.
While walking around work, I came across this 1973 beauty. It is an IBM Correcting Selectric II. Not sure if it still works or not, but still takes me back to the days in school having to work on reports with a typewriter my mom had that was much like this one.
Before everyone was carrying around lightweight laptops and netbooks that make word processing on the go super easy, but after they heyday of the typewriter, some devices tried to bridge the gap between the two. One of the most memorable and would you believe still in use in some areas was the AlphaSmart. Originally released in 1993, and then only compatible with the Apple Macintosh, the AlphaSmart was a wordprocessing device that allowed you to work on the go via a pretty long lasting battery and some creative tech. Then when you were ready to take your document to the next step, you just plugged it into your computer. A few iterations would follow after the initial release allowing for compatibility with the PC, USB interface, Palm OS and more standalone functionality.
Those who used the early model of AlphaSmart might be surprised to learn that the device lives on in the form of the NEO and NEO2. Still this is always the AlphaSmart I will remember.
Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t respect what people are doing with the NEO…
Vic Sage sent me this last night and I was very wowed. Jonathan M. Guberman, who is the inventor of the Automatypewriter, has made “new way to experience interactive fiction,” by making text adventure games playable via a typewriter. Sure it is slower, and perhaps a bit wasteful, but I find watching him play it absolutely hypnotic. See for yourself.