Typewriter of the moment: Stanley Kubrick’s

June 6, 2013

Stanley Kubrick's typewriter on Instagram, from sophireaptress.

Stanley Kubrick’s typewriter used in “The Shining” on Instagram, from sophireaptress.

It’s an Adler, but Instagram isn’t built for details, you know?

The typewriter is probably on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Kubrick Exhibit, which closes June 30, 2013 (hurry!).

More:

Save

Save


Typewriter of the moment: Abigail van Buren’s IBM

January 17, 2013

“Dear Abby,” Abigail van Buren, sorts through letters asking advice. Newseum photograph, from publicity photo.

“Dear Abby,” Abigail van Buren, sorts through letters asking advice. Newseum photograph, from publicity photo.

News flash, on Facebook, from the Newseum:

Abigail Van Buren, author of the “Dear Abby” advice column, died Jan. 16, 2013. She was 94.

NPR’s e-mail added a couple of details:

NPR BREAKING NEWS:

‘Dear Abby’ Dies; Pauline Phillips Was Adviser To Millions

Writing under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, she wrote the world’s most widely syndicated column. The daily readership grew to more than 100 million. The column is now written by her daughter, Jeanne.

More at NPR.org:

http://n.npr.org/NPRI/jN375186981_1570913_1570912_Z.htm

What an incredible melange of history in that photo!  You can read about Mrs. Phillips at the NPR site, but consider just this photograph:

  1. “Dear Abby” which used to be regular reading in most households in the morning — literally millions of American households.  She and her chief competition, “Ann Landers,” could each by herself move the nation, to change habits, to question manners, to change behaviors with vaccinations or new medical procedures, and in a few cases, move legislation through Congress.  No one in newspapering or broadcast today has the clout this woman had, but rarely used.  Not even Rupert Murdoch with his empire, had so much clout as Dear Abby.  (Many of us were surprised to learn later that the women who wrote Dear Abby and Ask Ann Landers were twin sisters — another one of those twists in real history that no one would believe in fiction.)
  2. Isn’t that an early IBM electric typewriter? Our local Fry’s doesn’t stock even electric typewriters anymore, nor could I find one in my last run through Staples and Office Depot (catalog sales, perhaps). IBM probably hasn’t made one 20 years, and not one like that one in at least 40 years — that is not a Selectric.
  3. Dial telephone.  Not just a land-line, but an actual, analog, dial telephone.  Without seeing any identifying characteristics, we can assume that her telephone provider was the AT&T regional company — unlikely that it was Continental, the only other major provider in the U.S. at the time.
  4. The Yellow Pages telephone book under the phone.  I think even Yellow Pages stopped printing those things; we haven’t had a good update on our white pages in years.
  5. Newspaper syndication meant EVERYONE had access to her columns — no internet.  A dime for the local paper, and you had Dear Abby.
  6. The fountain pen in her hand, perhaps for more than just signing letters (what do you say, Office Supply Geek?).
  7. No computer, which in addition to replacing the typewriter, would probably also replace the four-drawer file cabinet in back of her (a locking cabinet, perhaps a HON?)
  8. Is that flowered pattern the wallpaper in the place? They don’t make orchid wallpaper like that any more.
  9. Look at that stack of mail.  Each came in an envelope, stamped, for less than 8¢ (1st class rates topped a dime for the first time in 1974).  No e-mail; no electronic version to cut and paste from.  Each letter to appear in the column had to be retyped on that IBM typewriter.  Most high school students today have probably never sent a letter through the mail, and many have never received one, either.

The Newseum didn’t credit the photo, nor say when or where it was taken; I’ve not found more details yet. At the Newseum site, the photo is credited to Phillips-Van Buren, Inc., the company that runs the column.  I’m guessing 1970 at the latest, and this may be in the 1960s or even 1950s.

Some of us old timers get future shock just looking at that photo.  Can your students date that photo with the clues in it, history teachers?  Journalism teachers?  (Photos at OzTypewriters suggest this photo could have been made in the 1960s.)

More:

Heck, it may be a 1950s typewriter (do you read German?):

Deutsch: Elektrische IBM-Schreibmaschine aus d...

Deutsch: Elektrische IBM-Schreibmaschine aus den 1950er Jahren Lizenz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)  (Translated roughly, “IBM electric typewriter from the 1950 license.”)


Typewriter of the moment: Ava and Linus Pauling, 1957

December 8, 2012

Can you identify the typewriter?  Update: In comments, Ed Ackerman said it looks like an Olympia.  Agree?

Linus and Ava Pauling, 1957

Caption from the Oregon State University Library: Linus and Ava Helen Pauling working on “An Appeal by American Scientists to the Government and Peoples of the World”. 1957. Original held in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, Oregon State University Libraries.

Linus C. Pauling won distinction for his science work with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in 1954.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1954 was awarded to Linus Pauling “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.”

In 1957, Chemistry Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling turned to other issues.  Having been beaten in the race to confirm the form of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953, Pauling turned to peace activism.  He opposed atomic weapons and wars.

In this photo, posed, Pauling and his wife who partnered with him in his campaigns for peace, worked on a statement to be issued later, to be known as “An Appeal by American Scientists to the Government and Peoples of the World.”

Note the tools of editing of the day:  Cellophane tape, glue, scissors, pencils and pens.  The typewriter’s output could be cut into strips and rearranged on a separate sheet of paper, to be retyped later in order.  This was manual, analog word processing.

An online exhibit of Pauling’s work and photos at the Oregon State Library explained the document being worked on, and its use:

While the debate raged, Pauling continued to keep a high public profile, speaking widely and appearing often in newspapers and magazines through 1956 and into 1957, garnering attention by positing shocking estimates of fallout-related damage to human health. By the spring of 1957 it appeared that his and Russell’s efforts were yielding fruit. Alarmed by the dangers of fallout, Japanese, British, German, and Indian politicians began urging a halt to H-bomb tests, as did the Pope and the World Council of Churches.

In May, after delivering a fiery anti-Bomb speech at Washington University in St. Louis, Pauling conferred with two other scientists, Barry Commoner and Edward Condon, about next steps. They decided to mount a scientists’ petition to stop nuclear testing as a way to draw attention to the concerns of a growing number of anti-Bomb scientists. Their “Appeal by American Scientists to the Government and Peoples of the World,” mimeographed and hand-mailed, garnered more than two dozen signatures within a week. Pauling took the project back to Pasadena, where he and Ava Helen, along with some volunteers, mailed hundreds of additional copies to researchers in more American universities and national laboratories. Within a few weeks they had gathered some two thousand signatures, including more than fifty members of the National Academy of Sciences and a few Nobel laureates.

On June 3, Pauling released his signatures to the world, sending copies to the United Nations and President Eisenhower. The petition made national headlines — and spurred an immediate attempt to isolate its primary author. Even the president took a shot at Pauling. “I noticed that in many instances scientists that seem to be out of their own field of competence are getting into this argument about bomb testing,” said Eisenhower, “and it looks almost like an organized affair.” This thinly veiled allusion to Communist backing for Pauling’s effort was echoed by a number of other critics of the ban-the-Bomb movement. The head of HUAC blasted Pauling on the floor of Congress for spreading Soviet propaganda. A few days later Pauling was subpoenaed to appear before a Senate investigatory committee (although those hearings were delayed, then canceled). Through it all, he continued to broaden the distribution of his petition through the end of 1957, expanding his mailing list to scientists around the world, including many in Communist countries. By the beginning of 1958, he and Ava Helen counted more than 9,000 signatures. When the expanded petition response was submitted to the United Nations, it once again made headlines worldwide.

Where is a text of the document?  I found one image of the document in holdings of the National Institutes for Health.  It’s indexed under “petitions” in the papers and documents of Linus Pauling in the Profiles of Science section.

For his work against war, Pauling won the Nobel Prize for Peace for 1962 (awarded in 1963).  Pauling is the only person to have won two Nobel awards alone, undivided with anyone else.

Does that typewriter survive today?  Is it in the collection of Oregon State University?

More:


Typewriter of the moment: Mark Twain’s Hammond

December 5, 2012

Still hoping to find a photo of Samuel Clemens at work on a typewriter.

But until then, this one will have to do:

Mark Twain's Hammond typewriter, Jerry J. Davis photo

A Hammond typewriter that once belonged to Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain. Photographed by Jerry J. Davis, in an unstated location, probably Hannibal, Missouri

A Hammond typewriter, from oobject.com; perhaps not the typewriter that WAS pictured above; but Twain used this one, and the link to the photo above has died but good.

A Hammond typewriter, from oobject.com; perhaps not the typewriter that WAS pictured above; but Twain used this one, and the link to the photo above has died but good.

Other photos of Twain’s typewriter must exist; and since we know of at least two such machines, there must be some photos of each of them, no?  I wish museums and historians would consider the value of images of some of these objects, and make high quality photos of some of these famous machines.

Twain’s fascination with technology shines clearly in his work.  From his earliest writings we get lyrical and accurate descriptions of the mechanical workings of Mississippi riverboats, for one example.  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court paints a long paean to technology of the late 19th century, transplanted in the tale several centuries earlier.

Some accounts claim The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be the first manuscript completed by typewriter — this one, perhaps? TwainQuotes.com features what may be a description of this history:

…I will now claim — until dispossessed — that I was the first person in the world to apply the typewriter to literature…The early machine was full of caprices, full of defects — devilish ones. It had as many immoralities as the machine of today has virtues. After a year or two I found that it was degrading my character, so I thought I would give it to Howells…He took it home to Boston, and my morals began to improve, but his have never recovered.

– “The First Writing Machines”

As a publisher and investor, Twain pushed the development of automated typesetting machines to quickly publish the memoirs of former President Ulysses S Grant.  Though the books were set quickly, and the best-selling memoirs provided an income for Grant’s widow, the technology was still balky and cost Twain his own fortune.

Mark Twain's Hammond typewriter - TwainQuotes.com

Twain’s Hammond at the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Image from TwainQuotes.com. Is this the same machine pictured above? There are similarities, but differences more than just the angle.

We shouldn’t be surprised with his acerbic comments on the machines; Twain’s caustic humor targeted everything in modern life.  TwainQuotes.com notes a fraction of a letter to his longtime friend:  Twain’s Hammond at the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Image from TwainQuotes.com

The machine is at Bliss’s, grimly pursuing its appointed mission, slowly & implacably rotting away at another man’s chances for salvation.

I have sent Bliss word not to donate it to a charity (though it is a pity to fool away a chance to do a charity an ill turn), but to let me know when he has got his dose, because I’ve got another candidate for damnation. You just wait a couple of weeks & if you don’t see the TypeWriter coming tilting along toward Cambridge with the raging hell of an unsatisfied appetite in its eye, I lose my guess.

– Letter to William Dean Howells, 25 June 1875

Were things really so bad?

I regret to note that in our visit to Hannibal last June I did not encounter any typewriters.  Clearly, I’ll have to go back.

Tip of the old scrub brush to OObjects.

More:


Typewriter of the moment: Sports broadcaster Red Barber

November 1, 2012

Sportswriter Red Barber at his typewriter - Florida State Archives photo

Sportswriter Red Barber at his typewriter – State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/10011

The great Red Barber, when his hair was still red, working at his typewriter, with a volume of Roget’s Thesaurus close by.

Many of us knew Red chiefly through his weekly chats with Bob Edwards at NPR’s Morning Edition.  The biographies say Red died in 1992.  That was 19 years ago — it seems more recent than that.  (Edwards left Morning Edition in 2004.)

It may be ironic to show Barber at his typewriter.  He would be more accurately portrayed, perhaps, behind a microphone at a baseball park.

From 1939 through 1953 Barber served as the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was working for the New York Yankees when he retired in 1966. Barber had the distinction of broadcasting baseball’s first night game on May 24, 1935 in Cincinnati and the sport’s first televised contest on August 26, 1939 in Brooklyn.

During his 33-year career Barber became the recognized master of baseball play-by-play, impressing listeners as a down-to-earth man who not only informed but also entertained with folksy colloquialisms such as “in the catbird seat,” “pea patch,” and “rhubarb” which gave his broadcasts a distinctive flavor. (Radio Hall of Fame)

More:


Typewriter of the moment: An old one, manual or electric (yours?)

October 25, 2012

Typewriter

A manual, Royal typewriter (Photo by mikeymckay)

It’s enough to make an old typewriter guy drive to Arizona, for more than the air (with a stop in Albuquerque at the Owl Cafe for an Owl burger, of course).

Polymath reporter Bill Geist from CBS News reported this piece for Sunday Morning, in February, featuring Mesa Typewriter Exchange in Arizona, and more:

Where is that movie on typewriters“The Typewriter in the 21st Century.”  Geist was poaching on their material a bit, wasn’t he?

Bring on the movie!

More:


Typewriter of the moment: e. e. cummings

October 25, 2012

Typewriter of the poet and author e. e. cummings:

Typewriter of e. e. cummings at NYPL, photo by Chris Wolack, WildmooBooks

Typewriter of e. e. cummings, displayed at the New York Public Library, 2012. Photo by Chris Wolack, WildmooBooks

Through March of 2012, 250 objects from the collections of the New York Public Library were displayed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.  A few of the objects exhibited were typewriters, including this one.

Did you notice?  The keyboard shows only capital letters!  Did that anger cummings, or make him crazy?  Not that we can see.

More: 

Self-Portrait, Oil Painting. Cummings in the 1950s. Courtesy of Nancy T. Andrews, via Modern American Poetry

 

Tip of the old scrub brush to Chris Wolack at WildmooBooks.


Encore typewriter of the moment: Mencken and the 1948 conventions

September 4, 2012


Mencken at 1948 Democratic Convention

Mencken at 1948 Democratic Convention

Photo from the collection of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, at the Park Library, University of North Carolina.

H. L. Mencken at one of the 1948 political conventions (Thomas Dewey was the Republican nominee, Harry S. Truman was the Democratic nominee). Obviously the photo is a copy from the National Press Club Library. The Park Library site describes the photo and Mencken:

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) was a familiar figure at many national political conventions. This photo, taken at the one in 1948, was his last political convention. He is well known for his attacks on American taste and culture, or the lack of same. His magnum opus, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, was first published in 1919 and remains a classic. From 1906 to 1941, he worked chiefly as a reporter, editor, and columnist for the Baltimore Sun. (Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Sun Library.)

Assuming Mencken covered both conventions, this photo was taken at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in mid-July, 1948. We know it was taken in Philadelphia since both parties held their conventions there that year, the Republicans from June 21 to June 26, and the Democrats from July 12 to July 14.

Republicans nominated New York Gov. Thomas J. Dewey and California Gov. Earl Warren for president and vice president.

After a contentious convention that saw Minneapolis Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey propose a civil rights plank that got South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond to walk out of the convention and found his own States’ Rights (Dixiecrat) Party (with himself as the nominee for president), and former Vice President Henry Wallace walk out because the party platform was too conservative (Wallace ran on the Socialist Progressive Party ticket), Democrats nominated President Harry S Truman and Kentucky Sen. Alben W. Barkley for president and vice president. Truman narrowly defeated Georgia Sen. Richard B. Russell for the nomination. Had Thurmond not walked out, Truman may well have lost the nomination of his own party.

And the rest of the story?

Estes Kefauver on the cover of Time, with a coonskin cap

Sen. Estes Kefauver

  • Truman had a contentious second term, and was defeated in the New Hampshire primary in 1952 by Sen. Estes Kefauver; Truman ended his campaign for a second full term shortly after.
  • Earl Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Truman’s successor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in late 1953. Warren is remembered for engineering the 9-0 decision in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Educationwhich ruled “separate but equal” school systems to violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause, and for his chairing the commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Earl Warren on cover of Life Magazine

    Earl Warren on the cover of Life Magazine, May 10, 1948; copyright Time-Life

  • Hubert Humphrey moved on to the U.S. Senate, served as Vice President to Lyndon Johnson, and won the Democratic nomination for president in another contentious convention in 1968 in Chicago. Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon, and returned to the U.S. Senate two years later.
  • Strom Thurmond won election to the U.S. Senate in 1954, switching parties to Republican in 1964, and serving until his death in 2003.
  • Russell, who had served as Georgia’s senator since 1933, continued to serve to his death on January 21, 1971; he was a key member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Russell Senate Office Building is named in his honor, the oldest of the three Senate office buildings.
  • Barkley was the oldest vice president ever inaugurated, aged 71. He remarried in his first year as vice president (his first wife died in 1947). Barkley’s nephew suggested that he should be called “the veep” because “Mr. Vice President” was too long. The title was seized up on by headline writers. Considered too old to run for the presidency in 1952, Barkley won a U.S. Senate seat from Kentucky in the 1954 elections, serving from 1955 to his death in 1956. Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River is named in his honor, as is the lake behind it, Lake Barkley.
  • Henry Wallace finished a distant fourth in the 1948 election, behind Dewey and Thurmond. His political career was essentially over due to his inability or unwillingness to disavow communist support. He achieved success as a chicken breeder. In a daramatic turnabout, he wrote a book, Where I Was Wrong, disavowing communism and critical of Joseph Stalin, and endorsed Republican candidates in 1956 and 1960. He died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 1965.
  • Dewey returned to his law practice. In 1952, Dewey helped engineer the nomination of Eisenhower over his old political nemesis Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio, pushed Richard Nixon as the Vice Presidential nominee, and in 1956 first convinced Ike to run again, and then to keep Nixon on the ticket. Dewey politely refused offers of offices, including refusing a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, sticking to his law practice which made him very wealthy. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1971, at age 68.
  • Mencken suffered a stroke later in 1948 that left him unable to speak, or read, or write for a time. He spent much of the rest of his life working to organize his papers, and died in 1956. His epitaph, on his tombstone and on a plaque in the lobby of the Baltimore Sun, reads: “If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner, and wink your eye at some homely girl.”

This is an encore post.  Some new links have been added — though, as you can see, I don’t yet have a better photo of Mencken at the conventions.  More news sources, below.

More, Other Sources:


Typewriter of the moment: LBJ’s teleprompter typewriter

August 6, 2012

LBJ Library photo by Mike Geissinger

July 27, 1967, in preparations for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s televised address to the Nation concerning civil unrest in American cities, an unidentified White House Staff member types President Johnson’s address for a teleprompter – LBJ Library photo by Mike Geissinger, public domain (Other sizes of photo available at LBJ Library site)

The first personal computers were more than a decade away.  Today’s teleprompters — a computer screen mounted to reflect into a glass in front of a television camera lens — had not been conceived.  Teleprompters were cathode-ray tube televisions attached to a massive television camera with a clunky device.  The image would be reversed to reflect correctly.  Into that television would be a closed-circuit feed of a scrolling piece of paper on which was typed, in very large letters, the script the speaker was to read.  In this case, of course, the speaker was the President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1967, a special typewriter was required to type out the oversized-font, easy-to-read script on a roll of paper with sprocket holes along the side to enable an automated scrolling.

Just looking at the equipment for the technology of the time is an education.

Schematic of teleprompter system, from Wikimedia Commons

Schematic of teleprompter system:
1. Video camera
2. Shroud
3. Video monitor
4. One-way mirror
5. Image from subject
6. Image from video monitor

Teleprompters allow someone reading a script to look directly into the television camera lens, giving an impression to a viewer that the person is speaking directly to them, instead of glancing down at a script and back at a camera.  Research showed viewers tend to grow disinterested in people looking down at a script, and would more likely be engaged by someone appearing to look at them.

Teleprompters existed in the 1950s, but many local television stations did not use them until into the 1960s — news broadcasts of the time often featured the anchors reading from written scripts on a desk in front of the broadcaster.  A few intrepid news anchors, throwbacks to a more theatrically-inclined era, would memorize an entire script every night.

The schematic is based on modern, smaller television cameras and modern, thin devices to project the word images.  Older versions were larger — sometimes much larger.

Ed Mason as a studio technician, adjusting the teleprompter before a local broadcast - WCIA TV (Illinois) circa 1957

Ed Mason as a studio technician, adjusting the teleprompter before a local broadcast, WCIA television, Channel 3 in Champaign, Illinois; photos from site of DougQuick.com, an on-line tour of history of broadcasting

One popular version put a simple paper scroller mounted above the lens of the very large, studio television cameras — a broadcaster’s eyes could focus an inch above the lens, and viewers couldn’t tell he or she was not looking directly into the lens.

Modern teleprompter mounted on television camera, circa 2005 - Wikipedia image

Modern teleprompter mounted on television camera, circa 2005; text is projected from a thin screen on the top of the camera lens – Wikipedia image

Teleprompters emerged as a symbolic political whipping device in the early 21st century. Partisans wishing to impugn the intelligence of a politician complain that he or she cannot speak extemporaneously, without a script. Oddly, the charge was rarely leveled at President Ronald Reagan, famous for his use of scripts in almost every situation. Reagan’s White House pushed modernizing of the technical devices employed at the White House, including the latest in teleprompter devices.

The most frequently-seen politician-used teleprompters today are simple stands, “conference” teleprompters, designed as much to allow a speaker to use teleprompters with a live audience as to facilitate television use.  The devices are simple stands with a highly-reflective, clear plastic or glass on the top, and computer screen on the floor shining up.

A modern,

A modern, “conference” teleprompter of the style usually seen at public appearances by politicians.

Modern teleprompters cost a fraction of earlier versions.  Everybody uses them now — I’ve even heard of first-time candidates who did not have to go to teleprompter school.

Here I am, reading from a teleprompter at the George H. W. Bush Library and Museum in College Station, Texas, in 2011:

Ed Darrell tries out the Presidential podium and teleprompter

Here I am trying out the teleprompter and podium at the George H. W. Bush Library and Museum, College Station, Texas, in 2011.

And more people using teleprompters, with years in captions, so far as I can get them.

Teleprompter script used by President Kennedy; JFK Library collection, image by thewastesmile

Teleprompter script used by President John F. Kennedy, from Kennedy Library collection; image by a private party.

President Reagan using a teleprompter, in speech from the Oval Office - undated

President Reagan often used teleprompters — in a computerized form by then.

Teleprompter in use:  LBJ addresses the nation prior to signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, on July 2, 1964 - LBJ Library and Museum photo

Teleprompter in use:  In the White House East Room, President Lyndon B. Johnson used a teleprompter to address the nation in a live television broadcast, just before he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. People watching include Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Senator Hubert Humphrey, First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover, Speaker of the House John McCormack. Television cameras are broadcasting the ceremony.

A more modern use:

Judy Licht using a teleprompter in a broadcast from Italy.

Broadcaster Judy Licht using a teleprompter in broadcast or taping from Piazza Duomo, Milan, Italy, in September 2007.


Typewriter of the moment: Tom Hanks’s 1969 Royal Apollo 10 Electric

March 3, 2012

Some indications on Twitter that actor Tom Hanks may be turning into a collector of these historic items:

Typewriter - Tom Hanks Royal Apollo 10 1969 - Photo by Tom Hanks at WhoSay

Tom Hanks found a vintage 1969 typewriter (circa Apollo 13 mission), a Royal Apollo 10, and Tweeted this picture - Photo by Tom Hanks at WhoSay

In his Tweet, captured at WhoSay, Hanks wrote:

Typewriter of the day. Royal ‘Apollo 10’ model from 1969. Electric that got us to the moon! It’s noisy but types fine. Hanx

Do you think there’s a movie about typewriters coming?

Confess, Dear Reader — are you taken in by the magic, charm and dinging carriage-return bell of these old typewriters?  Do you remember the machine you used to use?  Do you still use a typewriter?  Minds soaking in the Bathtub want to know.

Grateful tip of the old scrub brush to Judy Crook @Jude2004.


Typewriter of the moment: Comedian Stan Laurel

January 16, 2012

Stan Laurel at his typewriter, via Mike Lynch Cartoons

Stan Laurel at his typewriter, where he composed notes to fans. Image via Mike Lynch Cartoons

That is Stan Laurel, half of the comedic team of Laurel and Hardy, famous from the movies of the black & white era, famous from the caricatures in the cartoons our children, perhaps, have seen.  The photo is circa 1958.

Oliver Hardy died in 1957 from a series of strokes, and Laurel suffered a stroke himself.  He was unable to make movies any more, he said.  But he did bother to personally answer all his correspondence from fans.  On the typewriter pictured, he typed out short notes in response the fan mail, like this one, from 1958:

Note from comedian Stan Laurel to a fan - via Mike Lynch Cartoons, via Letters of Note

Note from comedian Stan Laurel to a fan - via Mike Lynch Cartoons, via Letters of Note

Laurel died in 1965.  It’s a bygone era.

No, I haven’t identified the typewriter.

The text of the note can be found at Mike Lynch Cartoons.  I gather Lynch got the images from Letters of Note, a blog devoted to written correspondence of some historic value (it’s very interesting).

  • Laurel and Hardy in “Nothing But Trouble,” 1944

Even more: 


(Missing) Typewriter of the moment: Albert Einstein

December 30, 2011

Einstein at his desk, Princeton, New Jersey, circa 1955

Einstein at his desk, Princeton, New Jersey, circa 1955

He wrote papers, and letters, long-hand.  Sometimes they would be typed up by an assistant, perhaps Helen Dukas.

The desk of Albert Einstein features a refreshing, bracing lack of technology.  No typewriter.  No telephone.  No radio.  No Dictaphone.  No intercom.  Pencils.  Is there even a ballpoint pen?  A chalkboard in back of the desk provided a large sketch pad for new ideas, and new trials of ideas, from the man who gave us nuclear power, gravity as a deformation of space, the speed of light as a firm constant in the universe, and relativity.

Somewhere there may be a typewriter Einstein actually used once or twice.  I’d like to know about it.

More: 

Ralph Morse photo of Einstein's office the day he died, April 18, 1955 -- originally for Life Magazine, not published

Ralph Morse photo of Einstein’s office the day he died, April 18, 1955 — originally for Life Magazine, not published; via AllPosters.  Note the antiquated telephone away from the desk, near the wall; Einstein’s pipe and a tobacco tin appear the closest things to technology on the desk; is that a bottle of ink for a fountain pen next to the tobacco tin?


Typewriter of the moment: Walter Cronkite

October 9, 2011

Walter Cronkite at his office typewriter:

Walter Cronkite at his typewriter, in his office

Walter Cronkite at his typewriter, in his office - from The Typewriter blog

Pipe rack to his left, on the shelf above; full set of the Encyclopedia Britannica to his right (probably a 1960s set); A lot of books, some dealing with space exploration, among his favorite topics; models of the X-15 and early versions of the Space Shuttle; award from the Boy Scouts to his right, where he can see it easily.

When was this photo taken?  1970s?  Earlier?  Maybe someone who follows Dixie Cups could date the cup to Cronkite’s left.

This is probably the same office, redecorated, and stripped down to move – and with a different typewriter (a Smith-Corona electric?):

Walter Cronkite in his office just before his final newscast, 1981; SF Chronicle "file photo"

Caption from the San Francisco Chronicle website: "In this March 6, 1981 file photo, Walter Cronkite talks on the phone at his office, prior to his final newscast as CBS anchorman in New York City. Behind him is a framed Mickey Mouse cartoon and his Emmy award. Famed CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, known as the 'most trusted man in America' has died, Friday, July 17, 2009. He was 92."


Typewriter of the moment: William Saroyan (again)

September 28, 2011

On the 30th anniversary of the death of William Saroyan, we repeat an earlier post on his typewriter:

William Saroyan's typewriter, photo from the Bancroft Library, University of Caliornia - Berkeley

William Saroyan's typewriter, displayed at the Saroyan Museum at his home in San Francisco - photo from the Bancroft Library, University of California; Berkeley

William Saroyan’s niece, Jacqueline Kazarian, recently gifted the Bancroft Library with a significant part of the archives of Saroyan’s work. The press release on the gift included a photo of Saroyan’s Fox typewriter, which is displayed at the Saroyan museum in San Francisco.

Saroyan came from an Armenian American family, born in Fresno, California in 1908. His writings illuminated the experience of Californians and Armenian Americans, especially during the Great Depression.

In many ways Saroyan’s work symbolizes the uniqueness of the Armenian community in America, especially California. [You still out there, Ben Davidian?] Wikipedia strikes the right tone:

Saroyan’s stories celebrated optimism in the midst of the trials and tribulations of the Depression. Several of Saroyan’s works were drawn from his own experiences, although his approach to autobiographical fact contained a fair bit of poetic license.

His advice to a young writer was: “Try to learn to breathe deeply; really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell.” Saroyan endeavored to create a prose style full of zest for life and seemingly impressionistic, that came to be called “Saroyanesque”.

The complete May 19, 2010, press release from the University of California is below.

a sketch "from a Turkish admirer," a photo of the author in his youth, and a framed sketch of Saroyan

The Bancroft Library's new archival material on William Saroyan includes (left to right) a sketch "from a Turkish admirer," a photo of the author in his youth, and a framed drawing of Saroyan with a passage of his writing on Armenia. (Images courtesy of the Bancroft Library)

The Bancroft Library accepts gift of William Saroyan archives

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | 19 May 2010

William Saroyan

William Saroyan (Photo courtesy of The Bancroft Library)

BERKELEY — The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, has received a spectacular gift of hundreds of books, drawings, correspondence and other personal communications to and from one of America’s best-known writers, the Armenian-American author and playwright William Saroyan.

The rich collection includes approximately 48 cartons with 1,200 books and other archival materials assembled by his niece, Jacqueline Kazarian, of San Francisco, who also is the founder of the William Saroyan Literary Foundation International. A celebration of the gift is set for noon on Friday (May 21) at The Faculty Club on campus.

“UC Berkeley is such an incredible place of learning and growing and intellectual exploration,” said Kazarian, who earned degrees in communication and decorative arts at UC Berkeley in the early 1950s. “I know that my uncle wanted his library, manuscripts and galleys to go to Berkeley. Students will be inspired by the collection.”

Apart from this gift, The Bancroft Library already retains significant holdings of Saroyan’s work that it collected over the course of his life and career, and it continues to add to that collection. Most of the latest materials come from Saroyan’s home on San Francisco’s 15th Avenue that is now a Saroyan museum directed by Kazarian. Those materials were supplemented by Kazarian’s extensive personal collection, as well as by items of Saroyan’s that she acquired through a prominent Boston archivist and via a Saroyan friend.

“Jacqueline Kazarian’s new gift is the largest and most substantial augmentation to the Saroyan collections at Bancroft that we have ever received,” said Peter Hanff, Bancroft’s deputy director.

The author’s classic manual typewriter, as displayed at his San Francisco home

The author’s classic Fox manual typewriter, as displayed at his San Francisco home. (Photo courtesy of The Bancroft Library)

Saroyan, born in Fresno, Calif., in 1908, drew extensively on his Armenian-American heritage and childhood experiences for his books, plays and short stories. Much of his writing was considered impressionistic and reflected a hearty optimism often hard to find during the gritty Great Depression. He died in 1981 at the age of 72, with his niece at his side.When Story magazine editors Martha Foley and Whit Burnett printed Saroyan’s “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” in 1934, it was an immediate success, triggering Saroyan’s fame and standing as one of his many literary achievements.

“Uncle Bill’s writing revolutionized the short story,” said Kazarian, adding that she has always found his work “almost spiritual and fable-like.”

His five-act play, “The Time of Your Life,” is the only American play to have won both the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Saroyan’s work as a screenwriter with Hollywood director Louis B. Mayer on the film “The Human Comedy” won an Academy Award in 1943, and Saroyan later wrote a widely acclaimed book with the same title.

Kazarian’s gift to The Bancroft Library includes multiple first editions of Saroyan’s works, such as “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” “My Name is Aram” (1940), “The Human Comedy” and “Obituaries” (1979), and many materials personally inscribed by the writer. Also among the new items according to Steven Black, the head of acquisitions for Bancroft, are letters, telegrams and notes written by Saroyan to relatives and others close to him, mostly during the 1930s and 1940s.

antiquarian book dealer Peter Howard of Berkeley, shown here poring through Saroyan materials

Antiquarian book dealer Peter Howard of Berkeley, poring through Saroyan materials. (Photo courtesy of The Bancroft Library)

“He personalized a lot of what passed through his hands,” Black said, noting that much of the material features marginalia reflecting Saroyan’s thoughts and interests.

There also is a copy of Henry Miller’s “Aller Retour New York,” an 80-page journal about a 1935 visit by Miller to New York City and his journey aboard a Dutch ship back to Europe. It is inscribed by Miller to Saroyan.

And a Saroyan scrapbook in the collection contains press announcements about the Pulitzer Prize for his book, “The Time of Your Life.” He scoffed at the award, contending that the arts should not be judged by commerce.

The new Bancroft collection also contains a pre-publication proof of “Burnt Norton,” the first poem of T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” which Black said the publisher may have given to Saroyan “when he crossed the pond” on a trip from his temporary home in France to England.

There also is a wide range of magazines, including issues of Horizon and the Partisan Review, a leading publication of the Anglo-American intelligentsia during the 1930s and ’40s, Black said.

The first major deposit at The Bancroft Library of Saroyan’s papers was recorded in October 1980, and the library agreed to organize the collection and give Saroyan a general description and an index. After Saroyan died in 1981, the Saroyan Foundation paid the library to continue assembling the papers for official archives, which the foundation ultimately decided to place at Stanford University. That happened in 1996.

William Saroyan's niece, Jacqueline Kazarian, surveys materials at his San Francisco home

William Saroyan's niece, Jacqueline Kazarian, surveys materials in his home. (Photo courtesy of The Bancroft Library)

Kazarian’s donation is in honor of Berkeley antiquarian book dealer Peter Howard, who has provided appraisal assistance to Bancroft on Saroyan materials and other collections for decades. While director of The Bancroft Library, the late James D. Hart also developed strong professional and personal ties to Saroyan over the years, according to Kazarian and Black.

“Now, the Saroyan family materials come to a place that Saroyan himself would have been happy to see accepting them,” Black said, noting that Bancroft is proud to have so much of Saroyan’s “intellectual remains” to be able to share with the public.

Scheduled to speak about the acquisition at Friday’s event are Jacqueline Kazarian; David Calonne, vice president of education for the Saroyan Literary Foundation International and a Saroyan scholar; San Francisco novelist Herbert Gold; theater director Val Hendrickson reading Saroyan’s short story, “Common Prayer,” and the credo to “The Time of Your Life”; and Charles Faulhaber, director of The Bancroft Library.

UC Berkeley already is home to an Armenian Studies Program, which is focused on contemporary Armenian history, politics, language and culture. And Bancroft, a rich, special collections library containing historical and literary documents and other materials relating to California, the West, Mexico and Latin America, is known for its strong collections on California writers, including Jack London, Robinson Jeffers, Bret Harte, Frank Norris and others.

More information about The Bancroft Library is online. Bancroft is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

More:

William Saroyan commemorative stamps from the U.S., and U.S.S.R.

On commemorative stamps issued in both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., Saroyan wears the Armenian-style moustache he wore through most of his later life. For a stamp to honor a man in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union was extremely rare -- maybe unique.


Typewriter of the moment: July 23, 1829 William A. Burt’s typographer patented

July 23, 2011

William Austin Burt received a patent on a typographer on July 23, 1829 — signed personally by President Andrew Jackson.

First patent issued for a typewriter, July 23, 1829, to William Austin Burt -- signed by Andrew Jackson

Image of the first patent issued for a typewriter, July 23, 1829, to William Austin Burt, a Michigan surveyor and inventor. It was signed personally by President Andrew Jackson.

The typographer is considered the forerunner to the typewriter.

Burt’s chief reputation came from his work as a surveyor in Michigan.  He discovered the massive iron ore deposits for which Michigan became famous, the iron that fueled much of American industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries.  He discovered one of the world’s largest deposits of copper, the Calumet and Hecla Mine.  He invented the solar compass, to survey areas where iron deposits made magnetic compasses inaccurate.

Drawing of W. A. Burt's typographer, the first patented typewriter - Wikimedia image

Patent drawing of W. A. Burt's typographer, the first patented typewriter - Wikimedia image

Some of Burt’s biographies do not mention his invention of the typewriter.

Burt was born in an era of great technological development and invention.  People in all walks of life invented devices to aid their work, or just for the joy of invention.  Even future president Abraham Lincoln invented a device to float cargo boats in shallow water, hoping to increase river commerce to his home county, Sangamon County, Illinois.

Burt invented devices to aid his work in surveying, a very important service industry in frontier America.   Because surveyors often worked on the frontier, they were famous for discovering natural resources in the course of their work. So it was that Burt, working in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, found his magnetic compasses spinning wildly.  Suspecting a natural phenomenon, Burt ordered his crew to look for ferrous rocks, and they quickly determined they were in an area rife with iron deposits.

It was to further surverying in such areas that Burt invented the solar compass.

Even uninteresting frontiersmen could lead lives that fascinate us today.  Was it Burt’s inventiveness that led him to such a life as a surveyor, or was it his work that pushed him to invent?

First typewritten letter, 1829 - Wikimedia Image

First letter ever written on a typewriter, in 1829 -- to Martin Van Buren, then Vice President of the U.S., and future president. Notice the letter was written nearly two months prior to the patent being issued on the device upon which it was written. Wikimedia image


%d bloggers like this: