Later this year a new device aimed at anyone who types will be available. The device is named The Hemingwrite. It is a distraction free device that allows a person to type without the luxuries we have become accustomed to in portable devices, namely laptops. Unlike a laptop it’s main purpose is for the sole act of what it is designed for, writing. It provides the look and feel of an old school typewriter with some high tech wizardry to make it cool. If you want to focus on writing then this is the device for you because it won’t skype, facebook, tweet, and so on. There’s an e-ink screen that displays your efforts while it auto-saves to the cloud. This way once your finished, or reach a stopping point, you can wiz on over to a computer and retrieve your documents to do with them whatever that might be.
I hope that’s vague/informative enough. If you want to know more about the device then do a google search and read all press kit information available to the public. Go ahead and take a look at their kickstarter page, it is quite impressive the funds they were able to raise in a relatively short amount of time.
So do I want one? Hell yes. Why? There are lots of reasons.
I learned how to type on a typewriter. I can’t remember the model but it had one of those wagon wheel looking things that had the font on the so called hammers. It would spin around to the appropriate letter and a pneumatic piece of metal would press the hammer down onto the page. During this time of the 1990’s we had typing for half a year and computer for the other half. I don’t remember what we learned in computer, but I do remember the monotonous labors of writing generic sentences talking about the QWERTY keyboard. Before I took this class I would hunt and peck on the keys not understanding why the damned thing wasn’t in some sort of order. Now I love my computer, and I appreciate spell check, but there is something special about typing on a typewriter. For a long stint of time when I would write I used a manual typewriter, especially for first drafts. The first I owned was a portable Royal that had been sitting in someone’s shed for who knows how long. It was dusty, dry, pocked with rust spots, but it still worked. I only had to replace the ribbon, which took some searching. I banged away at its loose keys until I got my hands on an Underwood later that year. And by Underwood, I’m talking about one of those 40 pound machines that bolt itself down to the surface by its sheer weight. Like the Royal I bought a new ribbon and pounded away at the glass keys. I’ve had a slew of other writers since then, but my favorite is still my Underwood. Unlike the typewriter I was taught any of the manual typewriters I have owned had their differences, but none of them had the number “1” on the keyboard. For years, a friend and I would write letters to each other since the two of us enjoyed using such a machine, plus we liked the idea of having actual letters to hang onto over the years. I managed to get my hands on perforated computer paper that was used for the old dot matrix printers and could write as long as I wanted without the hassle of having to change sheets. It was a modern version of Kerouac’s scrolls. Unfortunately, this practice has gone to the way side, but I still have that typewriter, and one day I’ll get it back from my kids who I am sure will not wear it out. Since then I’ve gone back to writing exclusively on a computer. The difference between now and just a few years ago is I utilize the convenience of cloud storage. Technically, I can write anywhere on any device. That’s a hell of a thing when you go from writing in one spot on one machine to wherever there is access. This is a feature the Hemingwrite offers. The fact that it doesn’t have facebook, twitter, access to the internet, and so on is not a downside, it’s a feature. The only thing the person can use this device for is writing. Much like the word processors of their day, which were typewriters with a screen and a little space to store data, the Hemingwrite offers this same experience.
What don’t I like about it? Well, it’s complicated. I like the idea of having the feel of writing on a typewriter with the convenience of cloud storage of whatever I peck out on the keys. But, why would I pay for something my computer can already do. If the allure of internet information is too tempting then there are apps out there that allow you to block any of your internet/social media features. If you want to get real hardcore about it then you can always pick up an actual typewriter. They have portable versions that have their own carrying case. The great thing about a typewriter (especially the manual typewriters) is there is no need to worry about battery life. It will keep going as long as you can, or until something breaks. Of all the writers I have owned two broke, one I was able to fix after an accidental fall the machine took, the other had a tension spring snap which I will have to have fixed. The downside of having a typewriter would be the potential noise they may make with the hammers slapping the page, but in a world where everyone has earphones plugged in their ears I cannot see the downside of walking into a Starbucks and hearing this type of sound. Besides, they do have Noiseless typewriters. Then there is the hassle of tracking down a ribbon for the machine. Let me weigh the options: $500 for something my computer can already do, or $10 to $50 for a typewriter that needs a ribbon and paper. The Hemingwrite is the size and, I’m guessing somewhere comparable, weight as a regular typewriter. If your going to lug that thing around why not it be the real deal.
So, do I still want one? Yes I do. Why? Because it looks cool. Will I get one? Hell no.
Now it’s time for shameless promotion of a design I made some time ago that goes along with today’s post. Get a shirt or any of the other things it’s printed on at the shop.