Germany Considers A Typewriter Comeback, And Yeah, It's All Our Fault


It may sound crazy, but they've got a point — Germany has considered switching to typewriters while writing up sensitive documents, and yeah, it's all our fault. This fascinating tidbit of information was dropped by politician Patrick Sensburg, currently heading up the NSA investigative committee being held by the German parliament, and reflects the deep wound between these two ostensible allies.

When asked on an episode of Germany's Morgenmagazin ("Morning Show") if a switch to typewriters was being considered, Sensburg replied "As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either ... Yes, no joke."

The interviewer seemed surprised by the response, and fair enough — there are so many benefits to using computers that the idea of a major European government forfeiting them is pretty dramatic. But also dramatic are the lengths the U.S. has taken to spy on Germany — the U.S. tapped the phone of chancellor Angela Merkel herself, then said they weren't doing it anymore, then reportedly started tapping aides and lesser members of the German government instead. Recent accusations of spying by an employee of Germany's intelligence agency haven't exactly helped.

But if German politicians actually start clacking those old keys when writing up official documents, it'd be a pretty cool resurrection of a technology long gone.

They Were Basically The First Laptops

If you're a journalist, reporter, or writer of any kind, you're just a tablet, a laptop, or even a smartphone away from tapping out a few hundred words. But back in "the day" — let's say, the late 1800s — it wasn't so simple. This dilemma was solved by one George Canfield Blickensderfer, who designed what would ultimately become the first truly successful line of portable typewriters on the market.

The real trend-setter was the Blickensderfer 5, the model which gained the most popular success. It was fitted with a keyboard layout far different from the one we see today — instead of the now-ubiquitous QWERTY layout, the bottom row of keys on the Blick 5 reads DHIATENSOR.

You Had to Take Your Time, and Think Before You Struck

This might not sound so awesome, but there's something appealing about it. When using an early-era typewriter, you had to be extra careful not to flub a spelling, or leave out a space, because there was no easy way to go back and correct anything.

As the early 20th century marched on, different ways to correct typing errors began to pop up — from abrasive erasers designed to strip the ink off the page, to covering fluids like Wite-Out, to stamping over the character with an identical one in white ink, effectively allowing the typist to hit backspace as though on a computer. And now, we have AutoCorrect.

They Leave Less Room For Distraction

Can you even imagine how much easier it must have been to zero in on getting your work done on a typewriter? Sure, you don't have the Web, so anything involving research would be light years behind — but think of how easily Web access becomes watching YouTube videos, or listening to music, or crawling down the rabbit hole of some insane conspiracy theory you've stumbled upon.

The humble typewriter brings no such distractions. In fact, quite the contrary — the understated charms of a classic typewriter can focus the mind on the task at hand. While drinking in the beautiful old craftsmanship of the early 20th century, you gotta remember that someone, years ago, designed this thing, and pieced it together by hand. And they did all that so that you could get to writing. So no more excuses!

That Symphony of Click-Tap-Clacking

Seriously, it's just great. While the sound of clattering away on a modern keyboard may be soothing to some, there's something distinctly nostalgic and grand about the sound of fingers darting around typewriter keys, pressing ink against paper.

Ephemeral Rift on YouTube

Oh yeah. I could listen to that all night long. And indeed, some people do turn to this typing sound to help them get to sleep — there are plenty of YouTube videos dedicated to giving you a soft stream of tapping to doze off to.