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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Writing - thirty years of word-processing!

There’s an interesting article about the 30-year anniversary of the Amstrad word-processor in the Guardian here.

Like many a writer of long tooth, I used the first Amstrad word-processor with Locoscript and its dot-matrix printer, to write short stories and novels and ultimately a short story magazine, Auguries here.
Before that, I used a Remington portable typewriter, which travelled with me in my naval career. Having self-taught myself to touch-type, I improved my speed in the Royal Navy, which proved useful ever after.

There are plenty of authors who prefer writing in long-hand, and there’s nothing wrong with that, though it is quite laborious. There’s supposed to be this physical-mental symbiosis between mind and hand when wielding the pen. I imagine there can be; but it is no more immediate than fingers dancing across a keyboard almost as fast as thought.

I don’t think it’s apocryphal: I read somewhere that Frederick Forsyth buys himself an old-fashioned typewriter before he embarks on a new book. Of the old school. I remember those sit-up-and-beg mighty machines; you could train for the Olympics, simply by working the carriage return. And the rough Atlantic Ocean played havoc with typing, as the ratchet slipped during a prodigious swell.

I may be nostalgic about those times, but no, I don’t miss retyping entire books, carbon copies, ink rubbers, correcting fluid and Tipp-ex.

I eventually migrated on to a PC and purchased a PC-compatible Locoscript application, because there were many features I liked, and I wasn’t so keen on WordPerfect. That meant that eventually I could migrate all my written work to future PCs, which saved a lot of retyping. [Sad sign of the times, my spell-checker doesn’t recognise ‘Locoscript’…!]

Thirty years? Blimey. They went fast.


Michael Parker said...

Apart from typing on the high seas, I can relate to all of that, from longhand, learning to type, Amstrad etc., etc. Old school indeed.

Nik Morton said...

Glad to bring back some memories, Michael!