Back to the Typewriter Future

We have seen that the word processor introduced a new intermediary element—a literal screen—between the writer’s fingertips and the printed page, This screen—cool, opaque—signified ultimate possibility, a kind of heterotopia, the setting and stage on which the computer could flaunt its otherworldly powers, and an irrefutable reminder—always right there, squarely before our eyes-of the computer’s alien otherness. A screen placed language in suspended animation.

Extract taken from Track Changes:  A Literary History of Word Processing (by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Harvard University Press, 2016)

Seriously, the 1990 Brother WP-1600D Word Processor, gives you the best of both worlds: Typewriter mode when you want to type without a parachute; Word Processor mode when you don’t.

Either way your get to tickle the ivories on a nicely-sculpted keyboard …

Welcome back to the typewriter future …

But fear not typewriter troglodytes, a ribbon cassette carrier and a daisy wheel lurk behind the scenes ready to do your bidding …

One downside is the built-in obsolescence of a 3.5 inch floppy disc drive, which tries but ultimately refuses to initialise my formatted double-density (720 KB) floppy discs …

WP-1600D (Left), AX-10 (Right)

How to accommodate those chunky British plugs? Taking inspiration from a dog chasing its tail, Brother came up with an electronic typewriter that plugs into itself …

“By the 1920’s Australia was using the British round pin plug and socket, but the two flat pin American plug had also found its way here and was also in use. The polarised version of this plug, which later appeared in the U.S, having one pin wider than the other, was never used here.

[…] The British and Americans had a three pin plug which were both used here. The British plug was, of course, a round pin design, while the American plug used flat pins. The American plug was not, however, the three pin plug of today (known as NEMA 5-15) but had two angled pins for the supply and another flat pin beneath for the earth.

Around 1930 an attempt was made by Clipsal and Ring Grip (the predominant electrical accessory manufacturers at the time), along with the State Electricity Commission of Victoria to adopt the American design as the Australian standard. The reason why it was chosen over the British design is because it was easier for local manufacturers to make plugs with flat rather than round pins.

The U.S. design was officially adopted in 1938 by the Australian Standards. The only change made was to make the pins slightly shorter than the American design to improve the safety aspects when a plug was partially withdrawn from a socket.”

(The chunky British three pin plug, still in use today, was introduced in 1949.)


5 thoughts on “Back to the Typewriter Future

  1. Hola, I since sold that typewriter. I couldn’t get the floppies to work, probably because that Word Processor used Brother’s own formatting rather than the MS-DOS formatting.


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