Friday, March 27, 2009

Internet Magic Friday

Jane Booras is the Editor of numerous newsletters including our Campus Times. She will be sharing how you can find whatever you need - photos, clipart, information, maps, phone numbers - on the Internet.

What’s on your mind? That’s the prompt you get when you go to your Facebook page on the Internet. Surely you’ve heard of Facebook. It’s the social networking site your kids, grandkids and friends talk about.

I intended to post this week about Facebook, but I got sidetracked with that question – “What’s on your mind?’ So I think I’ll just ramble with that.

When I started working in offices 52 years ago, state-of-the-art equipment was a manual typewriter. You know, the kind that if you type too fast, the keys got stuck in a clump right in the middle of the page. And obviously, you got in the habit of hitting the “return” bar at the end of every line!


The next innovation I remember was to the electric typewriter. Specifically, the IBM Executive® where space values for each letter were different. (This only makes sense if you were a secretary in those days. “M”s for instance were about three spaces, but the small “i” was just one). The finished product really looked professional, but if you made a mistake, and had three carbons to correct, you had to backspace according to the value of the letter to correct it. What? Carbons? You don’t remember carbon paper? Well, then, you’re too young. Carbon paper went out with hoop skirts, didn’t it? But that’s another story.

After the electric typewriter, I remember the IBM Mag Card®. You could “record” your letter or message or letter on a magnetic card. Then the machine (about the side of R2D2 in StarWars) would retype the message or letter (a personal original) to each recipient.

The IBM Selectric® (remember the little whirling ball?) was a great innovation. In fact I wish I had one today. You changed fonts (type face) by changing “balls”. You could adjust it from 10 pt. to 12 pt. type with a simple lever. It was magic.


Then came the word processor. This was a machine about the side of four bread boxes with a screen about 6” x 6”. You could correct your work on the screen by deleting or adding text or data and print it only when it was just the way you wanted it to look. Oh, by the way, it cost an arm and a leg. Not for home use for sure.

Eventually the computer changed all this. It was like a wedding between the computer (for processing data) and the typewriter (for processing text) and the children were prodigies. When the Internet came along, the whole world changed again.

Can you believe we’ve been through all this in just a few short years – well, 50 or so?

I wish I had that old Underwood typewriter that I started typing on in the Office of the Director of Admissions at Morningside College in 1956. I always say, “I never really appreciated antiques until I became one.”

Next week – Facebook. Really.

Jane Booras is Editor of the Campus Times Newsletter for Computer School for Seniors (

1 comment:

William said...

You're so good..this is interesting stuff. Mimi was super fast on the IBM Selectric...she didn't want to give it up for the computer I gave look at what she does. Wow.