Opinion: Revenge of the Ludittes

Illustration by Angela Keoghan
Penelope Whitson discovers the best way to put paid to all this dirty politics rubbish: bring back the typewriter

Typewriters are back! Yessiree, if anything from my youth making a comeback, other than the Bangles (saw them live once, envy me), is worth a jubilant fist pump, surely this is it. Possibly the ultimate tactile experience you can have with your clothes on, just the thought of typewriters conjures up the glorious experience that is the clickety clack of the keys and the immensely satisfying feeling that comes from the machine racing back to the start with a jubilant whirr ching.

I know I’m not alone in thinking typewriters feel better to type on than computers. The keys are heavier and make a more satisfying clunk. This might not appeal to everyone but that’s because some people are weird. There’s also the cheap thrill of applying Twink to one’s inevitable errors and waiting to see if the thin shell of white-out can take the weight of the key. So many botched assignments and so many good times.

You can therefore probably imagine my utter and demented joy after reading an article in the British Guardian in July stating the Russians have purchased (an admittedly paltry) 20 Triumph Adler typewriters, (whose ‘handwriting’ can be traced) over concerns electronic documents can be begged, borrowed and stolen too easily. As they’re currently babysitting Edward Snowden they’re probably quite right to think about electronic security. As we all should, of course, given the ease with which hacked emails wind up on the internet and ruin election dreams.

The Guardian then followed this up with another article a few days later reporting the Germans may also "revert back to typewriters" to counter sensitive documents being read by those who shouldn’t. This suggestion hasn’t found fans everywhere in Germany, with opposition MP Martina Renner tweeting, "before I start using typewriters and burning notes after reading, I'd rather abolish the secret services." I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would quite like the secret service abolished, so perhaps this idea has more merit than the MP imagined.

For those who just like the sound of typewriters, All-Round-Nice-Guy Tom Hanks has just the app for the would-be writer who wants all the romance of a typewriter with none of the associated weight and Twink issues. His best-selling Hanx Writer app allows you to type on your iPad with ye olde typewriter sounds, but not fail the weight test with your carry on luggage at airports. It also comes with a delete option, just in case your typing isn’t up to scratch.

As if that wasn’t enough, The Times newsroom, according to the Independent, has gone so far as to pipe in the noise of typewriters, as a trial "to increase energy levels and help reporters to hit deadlines." This intriguing idea has not, of course, found favour with everyone, with one reader commenting that perhaps we should listen to the sound of belching and flatulence to aid our digestion. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Typewriters are back! What’s next? Fingers crossed for the liquid lunch. ×