The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 August 2007

Stirring your qwerty

Miss Cellania pointed me (she'd do the same for you) to something called Typewriter Erotica, which notes (if you read the text instead of look at the pictures): "Secretaries have fed the imagination since the first one entered the office in the 1880s."

Typewriters, of course, are so 20th century. Despite this, I still own one, and maybe so do you. I have to wonder, though, if this particular fantasy remains viable. It was certainly alive in the 1950s, when David Janssen starred as Richard Diamond, Private Detective, a standard-issue noirish hunk with a secretary you never saw except for her legs. Come to think of it, I don't remember if she even had a typewriter, though surely she must have, and given the fact that in early episodes those legs belonged to no less than Mary Tyler Moore, I doubt I'd have paid much attention to a nearby Underwood.

I think the last time I got anywhere near hot and bothered over an administrative type at this level was 1988, while I was putting in an application at something called the Fashion Channel, a cable outfit based in Los Angeles. I attribute this condition as much to being recently divorced as to the, um, appearance of the young lady in question. (The following year the Fashion Channel was acquired by, and merged into, QVC; I never actually worked for them.) I'd like to think I'm older and wiser now, and "older," at least, is indisputable.

Posted at 4:15 PM to Almost Yogurt


You'd be amazed how much attention the administrative types get. Years ago I was an admin assistant for a large defense contractor. Nary a day went by when I didn't have a lunch date or someone hovering over my desk. I am no longer an admin assistant and thus I no longer have lunch dates. And no one hovers *sigh* (I am ignoring that then I was 20 and Perky and now I'm Not 20 and No Longer Perky.)

Posted by: GreenCanary at 5:34 PM on 15 August 2007

I had two nice typewriters, until Gothgrrl and her screwdriver got hold of them. Now they are in a million pieces. Oh well, I could never find ribbons for them anyway.

Posted by: Miss Cellania at 7:55 PM on 15 August 2007

I have ten typewriters, having gone on a collector-mania thrift store and Ebay binge. However, when I move I plan to give/sell most of them away. (I belong to a typewriter-fancier Yahoo group, so I don't think I'll have a problem there.)

I get my typewriter ribbons at Office Max -- they sell a "universal" nylon version -- black only -- for about six bucks. Also, there are internet sources where you can still get the black and red versions, as well as different colored versions. So there are sources, but they aren't available everywhere anymore, alas.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 6:53 AM on 16 August 2007

heh heh
you said "Underwood"
heh heh

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 8:58 AM on 16 August 2007

I didn't start running into difficulties with typewriter ribbon until I started changing them <rimshot> (though, I have to admit, the legibility improvement was addicting).

Seriously, though, my ribbon troubles started when I got a big IBM electric surplussed from the office where my mother worked, and it used a plastic ribbon that was only available at one place in all of Sacramento.

Later I got an electronic made by Sharp that also needed proprietary ribbon -- unless you got thermal paper which was even more expensive but made the ribbon unnecessary.

Then I got my first PC and a dot-matrix printer. Now we have two inkjets and a laserjet, and six-dollar typewriter ribbon refills have never looked so good.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:38 AM on 16 August 2007

When I got out of the radio business I liberated a box of TeleType ribbons that were left over from before the station switched to a computer for the AP wire. They fit most standard typewriter models-- somebody once told me they were designed that way so that if you ran out you could substitute a regular Underwood ribbon in a pinch. The difference is that they're over-inked: So much so that, 15 years later, they still work fine in my Olympia.

Posted by: Old Grouch at 5:17 PM on 16 August 2007

Say what you want about the old IBM Selectrics, but those typewriters had BALLS.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 9:34 PM on 16 August 2007

I feel like such a wuss with my daisywheel.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:35 PM on 16 August 2007

My dad's first setup had a TRS-80 and a daisywheel printer.

Sing it, Charles:

This is not...
Your father's daisywheel...

Posted by: McGehee at 3:44 PM on 17 August 2007

Is that one of those merry daisywheels?

Posted by: CGHill at 5:16 PM on 17 August 2007

I think if you hit the "442" key you get "455."

Posted by: McGehee at 11:56 AM on 18 August 2007

I suppose, had they hung around long enough, I might have been intrigued.

Posted by: CGHill at 12:03 PM on 18 August 2007