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Typewriters, girls, and drama…

typewriter-joke-daily-news-democrat-huntington-indiana-jan-15-1907

Ouch! From the Daily News-Democrat (Huntington, Indiana), Jan. 15, 1907.

Traveling in the Central African Republic in 2012, I spotted a sign in a cafe reading, “Wanted, Pretty Girls for New Airline.” I did not know that people still regarded woman as “girls” in the 21st century, let alone that they could be seeking “pretty girls.” Alas, CRA is yet a developing country.

In the late 19th century and through a good part of the 20th, women were often called “girls,” and typists “typewriters.” A sampling of news and humor from this period serves as an interesting time capsule —

typewriter-joke-the-atlanta-constitution-atlanta-georgia-oct-28-1888

Call this a reversal of fortune! From the Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia), Oct. 28, 1888.

Put a cork in it! From The Daily Times (New Brunswick, New Jersey), May 25, 1896.

Put a cork in it! From The Daily Times (New Brunswick, New Jersey), May 25, 1896.

Wickedly funny. From the Daily Citizen (Iowa City, Iowa), June 21, 1892.

Wickedly funny. From the Daily Citizen (Iowa City, Iowa), June 21, 1892.

Two parts of one clipping:

typewriter-boon-1-the-philadelphia-inquirer-philadelphia-pennsylvania-%c2%b7-wed-aug-10-1892

typewriter-boon-2-the-philadelphia-inquirer-philadelphia-pennsylvania-aug-10-1892

From the Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Aug. 10, 1892.

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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Typewriters in the classroom

From The Typewriter: Time-tested Tool for Teaching Reading and Writing, by Ann Cochran and George E. Mason (1978):

“The children who had typing instruction actually spent only an hour or two a week at the typewriter, yet at the end of the first year they outperformed the nontyping pupils in reading.”

As a school teacher, I often wonder what extent technology advances learning. Each day, more than 100 of my students log into their Chromebooks, accessing curriculum and submitting assignments. Granted, Chromebooks are not typewriters, but they are the modern equivalent. What is it about typing — mechanically or digitally — that enhances learning?

As an educator, I might offer that, as typewriters/computers are tools of creation, these devices enable students to create and through creation to learn. But if these devices distract, learning can’t occur. Distraction-free typewriters might have the advantage, might still have a place in the classroom.

Below is an article on typewriters and the classroom from the 1930s —

From the Pottstown Mercury (Pottstown, Pennsylvania), Jan. 19, 1934.

From the Pottstown Mercury (Pottstown, Pennsylvania), Jan. 19, 1934.

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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$7,251 buys a $22.95 machine (1905 price)

Burnett Typewriter from advertisement

I like a little drama in the typosphere. Earlier today, I posted an article about a Burnett that was up for auction at ShopGoodwill.com (see story here). Well, that machine fetched a whopping $7,251 (listing here). Could it have fetched more? Some collectors have valued the Burnett at well over $10,000 — see Thomas Russo’s Mechanical Typewriters: Their History, Value, and Legacy. Interestingly, the Burnett only sold for $22.95 in its day!

(Oh, if only I had a DeLorean!)

The agony is only compounded when one considers that a Burnett was offered — in modern times — for $25 at a garage sale. No one picked it up, according to this ETCetera article. (And is it just me, or does that Burnett look a lot like the one sold on ShopGoodwill.com? There appears to be a crack on both machines along the front label. Could this be a defect common to the Burnett? Or is it the same machine? To note, ETCetera mentions that the garage sale Burnett was ultiamtely sold on eBay.)

Rare machines do garner premium prices, and I don’t know any collector who’s got one. Tonight, someone is the proud owner of a Burnett.

Many advertisements like this were placed in newspapers in 1905. From the Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Sept. 23, 1905

Many advertisements like this were placed in newspapers in 1905. From the Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Sept. 23, 1905

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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