Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's a Qwerty kinda thing...

I recently learned that my cute little, portable, cordless, handy dandy, self-correcting, memory, electronic typewriter is...well..soon to be completely useless. Isn't that horrible? I think I bought this little typewriter around 1990--we were just getting into the desktop computer era...no internet, yet. In fact, my first internet was AOL on a black and white MAC Powerbook around 1994--my first legitimate laptop. But I'm progressing too quickly...much like computers and phones and devices now. As soon as you buy something, it's old.

Is there something wrong with being old, or outdated? I don't really think so. That's why I like the word, "vintage." That's why I do things like stitch fabric, bake bread, grow my own tomatoes, and glue pretty papers together. I'm vintage. Sounds so much nicer than old-fashioned or outdated. Right?

So back to my typewriter story. I remember one time, my husband and I were performing in a murder mystery dinner party--a murder mystery that had everyone ready to kill the director because he forgot to write up a program for the evening! It was about a two-hour drive to our locale...a mansion in the woods...so with that little Brother electronic typewriter on my lap, freshly loaded with 4 new batteries, I typed up a program, from memory, as my hubby drove. A few features on this typewriter allowed me to have bold and expanded type--wooh! fancy!--and we stopped at a Kinkos place in the middle of nowhere, copied up the programs, folded them, and arrived to cheers from our fellow cast members, ready to have a great evening complete with programs for our audience. I played an old, outdated prom queen who couldn't get over herself, and the chicken cordon bleu at dinner was fabulous! But the real hero--my little Brother typewriter.

Then, later, I remember maybe typing a few more things on that sweet little qwerty keyboard, and then one day putting it away in a closet, and sort of, forgetting that I even owned a typewriter.  

A few years later, my daughter was born. She was born into a generation that will never remember being without a computer on your desk and the world wide web at your qwerty fingertips. She had never laid her eyes on a typewriter, until she was seven years old, and was digging around in my closet for something I told her to look for and stumbled upon my little Brother typewriter.

"Mommy, what is this?"

I couldn't wait to tell her what a typewriter was! I got to tell her the story about how when I took typing class in high school (not a requirement unless you were going into the "business" field), I was one of two volunteers who agreed to start on a manual typewriter because there were not enough of those IBM Selectrics for the whole class. I explained to her that that is why today, probably, I am a lightening speed typist, which helps when one of your main activities is writing.

"Can I see how it works?"

We plugged it in, put in the paper, typed on it, and wallah! It worked like it had never been stored away for ten years.

"Wow!" she said. "It's like typing on a printer!"

That said it all. They'll never understand, I thought to myself. Not really. But who cares? It's not like I really wrote that much with a typewriter. I wrote a couple of plays when I was very young, and some poems and short stories. But honestly, it wasn't until I had a computer and a printer that I really started writing. Here I am, still working on my first novel--no way this would happen with a typewriter, or pen and paper, I'm quite sure. I'm too lazy! Notice, novel not done!
A real "vintage" typewriter

So, my daughter had a great time, for a while, playing on the typewriter. Then the novelty wore off, and this little thing got shoved under a desk, again...until about two months ago. The typewriter in my office died. Yes, in spite of having a fairly nice, new desktop with two huge flatscreen monitors, and my own laptop, I occasionally need an actual typewriter. They do still make them! So I brought my little Brother into the office--thinking I'd save a little in my budget, and just use it here for a while. I have a brand new package of three ribbons made and purchased just for this typewriter (which is kind of amazing)--so I needed to order more and that's when I discovered THEY DON'T MAKE THEM. 

They don't make the ribbons. They don't make this typewriter. Who is they?

I googled, I searched, I ebayed, I researched, and finally I had actual correspondence, via email, with the people at Brother. They reminded me there was only a five year guarantee in the first place, and after five years they promise nothing, which includes the manufacture of this product and its accessories. 

Why was I so sad? They probably thought I was crazy...bugging them about this typewriter, 21 years later!

So, the little electronic Brother and I are three ribbons away from saying goodbye forever. Lately I have used it in some scrapbooking--typing out a few words and phrases to be clipped out and painted for a variety of scrapbooking projects. That will be its legacy. That, and this.

At least we still have the QWERTY keyboard--they tried to take that away from us, you know, once upon a time. And, I'm not going to fib, I love my laptop and latest devices. But when something new comes along? I'm all about it! I'm there! I'm so fast to tell whatever computer just became updated, "see ya! wouldn't wanna be ya!" Not attached in the least. Okay, I lied. I still have that little MAC Powerbook. But that's all. I'm not one of those people that keeps a graveyard of computers in my house.

Not so with this little typewriter. I feel guilty it was put away and forgotten for so long. Maybe these three ribbons will last it another year or so. At least we'll have plenty of time for a few last words together.

Hello? Brother? Remember me? The crazy Brother EP5 Electronic Typewriter lady? Yeh. I need a new typewriter. I know, I know. Five-year guarantee.  :(


  1. Well I'll tell you, even though I love my computer and how accessible things are, I wish I had never gotten rid of my typewriter.

  2. This speaks to my heart, Sandy. Your little Brother is lucky to be owned by such a talented, talented lady!

  3. Thank you Sharon! I'm obviously a little emotional about my little typewriter! I think it reminds us all we need to "unplug" from our high-tech worlds every now and then. :)

  4. In case you still have the typewriter, a tip. Those models used thermal ribbons, like fax paper. If you want, you can just use it with thermal fax paper *without any ribbon installed* and it will work just fine :)