Book review: As Fast As Words Could Fly, by Pamela M. Tuck

by | May 10, 2013 | Book review, electric, Royal, Smith-Corona, typing competition, WordPlay | 11 comments


  1. notagain

    I will check my collection. I like the way you conclude that the continuity errors likely had to do with the lack of exposure to typewriting. I have a story like that which I'll blog if I can remember to tell it.

  2. Unknown

    I'm curious if there are any 60s and 70s picture books that featured typewriters in any sort of central role. I am extremely fond of that era of books, I consider them to be the highlight of children's literature.

    I'm curious; I rarely see underlining under the word but not the space. Any reason?

  3. Richard P

    There's Miss Tibbett's Typewriter, for one.

    It's funny, I wondered whether readers would notice my technique of underlining the words only. Probably this is unusual because it's simply easier to underline the whole thing. Maybe that's also easier to read.

  4. Miguel Chávez

    I would go even further and say that some electrics are actually noisier than the manuals; think the IBM model D or the early Selectrics, for instance.

    I think the separation between the machines in the illustration would be a tad uncomfortable but not impossible to manage. Maybe it's me, but I *think* the manual is located a little further back on the table than the electric to its left, so that would give its carriage some more space to move. And a useful trick to make them use less desktop space when you perform a carriage return consists on setting your margins in such a way, that you insert the paper centered to the platen. That way the horizontal movement of the carriage will be actually about four inches to each side, instead of moving twice as much (or even more!)if you inserted the paper to the edge of the platen roll. That way you can have several machines side by side and only need about 5 – 6 inches of separation between them to operate them simultaneously. That comes in handy when you type on double-width machines like my Olympia SG-3.

    As for the word underlining… it's very neat and clear, indeed. Few people use it; and it certainly makes the text look a lot cleaner.

    Oh! And IBM Wheelwriters do have a "bell" (if you can call that the electronic pittance they use), and they can perform an automatic carriage return if so instructed… but you still have to pay attention to your typing, because you can actually type past the right margin position inadvertently. The automatic carriage return is activated only when you press the spacebar after the bell rang; but if you are typing a long word, the machine will continue writing characters until you press return or insert a space. It's something that takes a bit to get used to.

  5. Ted

    Alack! no 1950's QDLs in my stable, unfortunately.

    I think the technical mis-steps are easily overlooked, and I commend the Illustrator for his or her pretty much photo-perfect representations of the machines. That's rare and delightful!~ (:

  6. Richard P

    That's true, the typewriters are instantly recognizable and faithfully portrayed.

  7. Ton S.

    Great review of "As Fast As Words Could Fly," I think I'll get a copy. A brown QDL as companion to this book is a great idea!

  8. gee

    Small world we both post a review of the same book on the same day. I almost posted some illustrations then decided not to. For me they are the best part of the book.
    Interesting take on the book. I had to stop comparing it to my own experience as a youth.

  9. notagain

    It's so natural to me to underline that way I hadn't noticed it.

  10. Bill M

    Seems like a very nice book. I may have to look for a copy and read it.
    If you are referring to a blind typewriter as those with the keys blacked out I used to use one in typing class. Many of us did. That is what forced us to type by touch and listening for the bell while typing to audible things from the teacher or copying from our books.

  11. Richard P

    By "blind" typewriter I mean an understroke, such as the early Remingtons, Smith Premiers, Caligraphs, etc.


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