Writing has changed over the millennia. One of the many fascinations in the 1953 movie Robinson Crusoe is watching Robinson carefully write in his journal in cursive with a quill pen. Those were the days! The 1950s was the era of fountain pens that the user loaded from an ink well or jar. Technology then produced the cartridge fountain pen with the little plastic tube to insert into the pen. Operation commenced by closing the pen’s cartridge slot, which punctured the cartridge and fed the tip. Later, the ballpoint pen made fountain pens archaic except for purists.
The typewriter also advanced technologically, with the manual typewriter giving way to the electric one. Finally, the computer keyboard made writing more of a breeze, yet even in 2002 (and for a couple more years), students in English class wanted the option of handwriting assignments. However, as the computer became a fixture on the college campus, it was easier to assign typed papers. In 2005, the HCC Hopkinsville campus converted two rooms into computer labs, and the computer setting for writing classes soon took off.
No one needs convincing of the endless possibilities for composing, revising, and editing on the computer. Those pleasures are not the only ones though. The feel of a keyboard on the fingertips is a special pleasure. Going too long during the day without typing on a keyboard can make the fingertips begin to crave the contact, and one’s ears long to hear the clicking. At home, I even enjoy sitting back in a chair listening to my wife type. The clicking sound is mesmerizing.
I learned to type on a manual typewriter while deployed to the Western Pacific on the USS Samuel Gompers AD 37 in 1971-72. Actually it was hunt and peck, writing many long letters home to my wife even though that typewriter had keys hard to press down.
Years later in 2000, when I went to graduate school at Austin Peay State University and the computer was already a staple there, I was walking down the hallway in Harned Hall and noticed that Dr. David Till’s door was open, so I dropped in for a visit. In his office was an old manual typewriter, and it surprised me to learn that it was not sitting out as an antique. He said, “I like the tactile pleasure of typing on it.”
Our fingertips are loaded with nerve endings for sensory use and pleasure. While your brain is composing, and your eyes are watching your document, fingers pressing on keys new or old is a combination to relish.