I was thinking about my typewriter, the one I took to the thrift store last year during the great Purge O’Possessions. That led me to think about the arguments I used to have with an upstairs neighbor when I first moved to San Diego in 1984. He had a MacIntosh. I had a typewriter with a memory. He would say, “A computer is so much easier. Your typewriter is inefficient. To revise your work, you have to type it all over again.”

I would say, “I don’t need a computer. Why would I need a computer?” I was writing a book at the time — a nonfiction book about Pearl S. Buck as a writer in the Chinese literary tradition vs. the American literary tradition. It was a monster of research. I had note cards all over the place

Then he and his boyfriend went away to Japan for a month, and he left his MacIntosh on my dining room table. The rest is histor(ical fiction).



14 thoughts on “Efficiency

  1. Historical fiction. hehe loved that. I remember typing code so a little wagon pulled by a man moved across the screen. We were enchanted lol. How times have changed.

  2. One of my favorite things in the slightly later macs was the mechanical voice saying with a vaguely russian accent (think Boris and Natasha) “Eeets not my fault” when something didn’t work. Still a line in use at my house.

  3. My first job in Israel — the first REAL job with a regular paycheck — was as the chief editor at the place where they were inventing DB-1 — the VERY FIRST electronic database which was bought by IBM, became DB-2 and literally the rest IS history.

    The writer was French. She had excellent English, but well — she was French. The writing was supposedly English aimed at an American audience. My job was to make her English sound like American English. I also had to learn systems analysis because otherwise I would have NO idea what she was talking about.

    I knew NOTHING about computers. Less than nothing. Nil, nada, zero. For six weeks, Tsvi Mi Sinai (tsvee mee see-nY) drilled system analysis into my semi-functional brain until I could create a database on my own. Not a good database or a particularly useful one, but it was functional.

    I fell in love with databases, systems analysis and computers. From day one, as soon as I realized I would never have to retype the whole thing again, I was in love. I have been in love ever since.

    • I had to teach my Indonesian banker students (who were headed to a special program at Harvard) how to write a database in BASIC. We had Apple IIe computers. They wrote and debugged their codes and THEN printed them. Then we got permission for them to type their code into IBM computers in a university lab. They typed in their nice, clean debugged codes (which had been difficult for them to write as, before the class, they’d never touched a computer in their lives) and, of course, their databases ran, no problem. They said, “See teacher? If we used IBM computers it wouldn’t have been so difficult.” I really never wanted to see any of them again after that. 😀

  4. I learned everything there was to learn about computers in German, mostly Swiss German.My computers are still giving me instructions in written German, I have never possessed an english written computer. When I am in England staying with my english friend, I use her computer. The “Z” and “Y” are in the wrong places for my touch typing and all the instructions are in english which tends to confuse me a little.

    • I had a good friend from Germany many years ago and she typed her thesis on my mac. She had the same problems plus having to do extra stuff to get umlats and so on. I’ve typed on Italian computers and they presented problems too. 🙂

  5. I enjoyed working on my typewriter. I liked the clatter of the keys and the ding-tone that preceded the chunk made when I returned the carriage. That said, I much prefer a computer.

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