QWERTY morphs QWERKY; Old School meets New Fangled

Posted: July 31st, 2017 | Filed under: History Warp, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

This exposition on what’s new today, anecdotal history lesson and nostalgic look back is being composed on my new toy, a Qwerkywriter.

That’s a photo of the device there to the left.

It’s not a 1940s typewriter, though it’s meant to look like one. With it’s round metal capped keys with their clickety click, and a return bar that moves your text to the next line. No, it’s a full function bluetooth keypad that synched instantly to my iMac.

How and why I went for this sumptuous and funky I-got-one-and-you-don’t computer accouterment is the very raison d’etre of this rumination.

Stick around for the ride.

Which journey starts back in the 50s with the best advice my brother Michael ever gave me.

“Take Typing class.”

So there I was soon enough, one of the few male of the species, in Mr. Cline’s 9th grade Beginner’s Typing at Highland Junior High, laboring to learn the home row keys.

At some point, despite chubby digits and a gimpy catcher’s thumb I’d suffered since Little League, I was able to knock out the lessons of pangrams at a reasonably healthy clip.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.

Plus other such punchy sentences of little meaning, much bemusement, and containing every single one of the 26 letters of the ABCs.  

Somewhere along the way, teacher explained how the QWERTY keyboard, as the standard has come to be known, came about. If you’re not aware, observe the left five keys on the top row of letters and the nomenclature will make sense.

Mr. Cline shared as how the typewriter was invented by one Christopher Sholes in the late 19th Century. That his first ideation had an alphabetical arrangement for the letters, but the machine kept getting stuck.

So, with the help of an associate James Densmore, the new configuration was developed and patented, and sold to E. Remington & Sons, a gun manufacturer.

Historical perspective notwithstanding, my sole sibling, as loathe as I am to admit it, was correct. The ability to type has served me well through the years.

Of course, I never got the hang of typing footnotes on the antique manual machine we had at home. Nor, frankly, on its successor,a Smith Corona Portable Electric, which I did use to type finals in law school.

So, for term papers that required footnoted references, I, like most of my brethren in college, paid by the page to the gal down the hall who could knock out twenty pages at 80 mistake-free words/ minute. And would do it, even when handed a scribbled mess at two in the morning, the result of which was due for 9:00 o’clock International Political Systems class.

Plus, she didn’t have to use that corrasable bond, a trademarked product that was erase-able, and my default typing paper of choice.

As we know, at the dawn of the age of technology, along came electronic word processors, then computers with word processing software, and life became easier for such matters.

Though, during the early years of word processing, there were more than a few cranky old novelists and essayists and poets, who insisted that such a new fangled concept wasn’t worthy of their genius. Some continued to practice their craft the old fashioned way.

Most moved on.

I certainly did, carefully loading the seven floppy disks of Word Perfect onto each new computer. Then played around with a bunch of other programs through the years that were simpler than the beast known as Word.

Unfortunately, the ease of use caused me to fall prey to one of the essential creative writing no nos embedded in my brain by Miss Walston, my 9th grade English task master.

“Never stop for mistakes when trying to write creatively. Just write and write and write, and clean it up later.”

Which is easier advice to follow when writing in cursive on legal pads or typing on a Selectric. But my tendency when composing these days, and that of most I’d observe, is to correct spelling or  punctuation or grammarial gaffes as I go along.

Maybe if Miss Walston hadn’t given me a D for a couple of grading periods, for whatever reasons that seems incomprehensible in retrospect, I’d pay more attention to that admonition.

 * * * * *

That teacher’s disrespect for my creative abilities notwithstanding, I’ve actually fashioned a somewhat respectable sideline as an essayist.

Not that’s it’s exactly a career, mind you.

I do enjoy writing, and even more, being read.

Like most who would dare deem themselves writers, I’ve always harbored delusions of fashioning some long form masterpiece. While waiting for a movie to start just last evening, a friend inquired when such was in the offing?

Not “The Great American Novel” really, since I’ve never been very good at totally concocting a scenario in my head. I observe, present a somewhat real life situation, and am fine with making things up from there. After all, I did grow up in the era of Dr. Gonzo.

I’m good at 750-1000 words. More or less.

But, of course, I continue to harbor fantasies — delusions — of publishing something, as they say, “in hardback.”

When that notion struck the other day, I had this absurd idea, “If I bought a typewriter, I could be more focused, less intent on immediately answering every email.” (Like I have while composing this piece.)

Coming to my senses, I soon understood the absurdity of that faulty thinking.

But then recalled something I’d read a year or two ago about a fellow who was retrofitting typewriters to act as computer keyboards.

So I googled it up, and found about the device upon which I’ve composed this very rumination.

The Qwerkywriter. QWERTY, Qwerky, get it? Clever name, that.

It’s dubbed a typewriter-inspired wireless mechanical keyboard™.

You can check it out here at the company’s website. 

And it’s pretty damn cool. A throw back that’s totally contemporary.

Love the feel of the metal-capped keys.

Love the clickety clack sound.

Love the programmable return bar. (Though I really don’t use it. But probably would more if dinged like a bell.)

It remains iffy whether my new gadget will be the catalyst that inspires that lengthy tome I’ve always given lip service to writing but haven’t started, the book based on any one of the many ideas jotted on scraps of paper that litter my desk.

Stay tuned.

Don’t hold your breath.

And remember: Jelly-like above the high wire, six quaking pachyderms kept the climax of the extravaganza in a dazzling state of flux.

— c d kaplan


One Comment on “QWERTY morphs QWERKY; Old School meets New Fangled”

  1. 1 Michael said at 11:11 pm on August 17th, 2017:

    Just thinking about you today, and really didn’t know how to reach you. So got on Google and boom your blog pops up.
    Low and behold continued reading and there I was in your article. ? Devine Intervention? Who knows about these things, maybe with time we can fill the empty holes that have occurred in our lives. Let me know how to reach you

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