My Life And The Keyboards I’ve Loved And Lost

October 25, 2013
Olivetti typewriter


I’ve been around the block. I’ve loved and lost in my time.

My first was the Olivetti. I was just a boy, and she was such a mystery. I fumbled clumsily with her mature keys. Why in God’s name were they arranged in such a way? Would I ever learn to make her sing?

But she was patient, waiting for me without judgement on that desk in the bedroom. I touched her in such an innocent way. Oh, how the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog!

Later, in junior high, I met Selectric. She was stiff, formal and efficient. But what she lacked in passion, she made up for in speed. She taught me everything I know. She even introduced me to her home keys. Looking back, I’d say our relationship was electric.

As I grew up, things got more complicated, as things are wont to do. There was the awkwardly named Brother EP43. She (for I hope she was a she) offered a tantalizing glimpse of our dazzling, computerized future. She led me on, enticing me with her tiny electronic screen and her newfangled thermal paper that let her print without ink. What a tease.

Then my first true love, who led me gingerly into the pleasures of the PC. The Apple IIe. All woman, her screen glowed with the same glorious green that enchanted Gatsby from across the bay. I became a man with Apple IIe. I wrote, I raged. I played “Castle Wolfenstein.”

But more mundane pursuits beckoned. At the college newspaper, I had my way with a real dumb belle — the Atex terminal. She had no brain, but she met my needs, if you know what I mean. Sometimes you take what you can get.

For a night out on the town, I called the Radio Shack TRS-80. Yes, she was a little thick (and a tad trashy), but she kept me on the move. We had an open relationship — she came with couplers that let us hook up with others any time we wanted. Lucky Pierre!

There have so many others since. Macintosh, Sony, Toshiba, Compaq … I can’t even remember all their names.

Those first few loves, though, are seared into my memory. I’ll never forget their touch.

IBM Selectric

IBM Selectric

Brother EP43

Brother EP43 [photo Typewriter Museum]

Apple IIe

Apple IIe [photo Vectronic’s Apple World]

Atex Terminal

Atex terminal [photo Winston-Salem Journal]

Radio Shack TRS-80

Radio Shack TRS-80

TRS-80 Couplers

TRS-80 Couplers