Last time I used a typewriter (and other old tech) 2005-03-17

I was just passing by the stationary cupboard, and purely by chance I noticed a bunch of bottles of tipex, and thought to myself "wow, are anybody actually still using that?"

I came to the conclusion that the last time I had used it must have been the last time I used a typewriter.

When could that be? I quickly assumed at least ten years ago, but it must be longer. My mom and dad both worked with PC's from '85/'86 or around there, but both had typewriters in their offices as well, as printing letters was still not generally done where they worked - the printers didn't give good enough results to be considered acceptable for external letters.

I think by the last time I had a summer job at my dads office, they'd stopped using typewriters at all, and that must have been no later than '90, I think.

In '87 I got a "state of the art" typewriter with a tiny (40 characters I think) LCD display and memory for corrections (it used a dot-matrix print head and wouldn't actually print until the buffer was full). I don't think I used that past '90 or '91 either.

So I've been entirely typewriter free for at least 14 years...

It made me feel rather old, and I'm just turning 30 this year (April 21st, by the way, in case anyone feel like buying me some expensive gadgets :-) ).

What other outdated technology did I use while growing up? Cassette recorders were a large part of it, and so was vinyl (which to me is obsolete, though I realise there is still a specialist market). Video tapes are now almost dead, with the first video stores already removing their last tapes to make room for DVD's.

Film cameras will still hang around, I guess, and while I think you can still buy Polaroid cameras, I haven't seen one in person in at least a decade - who needs it with digital?

Of course I've been through several types of obsolete home computers, but they've been part of evolution rather than a move to something entirely new.

But I do fully expect to leave my last CRT screens behind this year or next... And I won't miss them. Back when I was a kid (boy do I feel old writing that), we were all sort of assuming everyone would have 80" flat screens built into their walls by now...

Does anybody remember the analog landline phones? Ok, so I'm being a little bit sarcastic, but I'm all wireless, all digital there finally. I don't really know why I still have a landline at all really, as I almost exclusively use my cell phone (before I moved to the UK in 2000 I had an ISDN landline, and never connected a handset, it was for data only - people were confused about why they'd find me in the phone book but never get an answer...)

Modems. I hate modems with a vengeance, probably because I once ran an ISP and had to deal with US Robotics Sportster modems hanging on a regular basis. Haven't used a regular phoneline modem since '98. Haven't even seen one in years. And I threw my last ISDN card out in 2000.

For many years I thought that things were moving slowly, and I'd never see the kind of changes my parents saw from when they were kids, but looking back it's clear I was wrong.

Heck, I've used the internet for more than 10 years now, and BBS's from a couple of years prior to that, and the transformations are already massive, though in some ways harder to spot because they aren't tangible.

But the disappearance (more or less, for me anyway) of typewriters is still strange to me. They were so integral to my childhood, as I was constantly creating some newsletter or magazine or something (which I frequently sold, based on the concept that as a 6-7 year old child people will buy your product regardless of quality just because they think it is cute...)

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