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Showing posts from December, 2012

Chip, Rona, and a Good Companion

I have a story to tell about Communists, New Zealand, and a clandestine typewriter. While I might be stepping on toes here, I think that the ever-gracious Mr. Messenger will allow me to dabble in some southern-hemisphere typewriter antics.
The distance of Australia and New Zealand from traditional markets made shipping a vital part of their economic growth. It’s no surprise, then that the New Zealand waterfront became the locus of working-condition conflict. During WWII, labor shortages required that dock workers take on longer shifts; upwards of 15 hours a day. Anger at the situation was brought before the Arbitration Court of New Zealand and workers who were involved in the arbitration system were awarded a 15% wage increase. This did not apply to dock workers because their employment was controlled by a different governmental organization. Instead dock workers were awarded a 9% wage increase and among the rank-and-file this was seen as a slight for the vital service they offered t…

Happy Holidays

Brother Valiant

I put in a low bid thinking that if I did win this typewriter and it turned out to be trash, at least I would have some parts for other Brothers and I would be helping out a good cause.
I was shocked when I won with my $9 bid. I was even more shocked when it was delivered.


There is nothing to dislike about this Brother.



It's in fantastic shape.



And it even has an instruction booklet with a very interesting cover.


The previous owner must have gone to Hobart because...well...

It types beautifully. So, for a lark it turned out very well. I needn;t go into great length about Brother, because our faithful typewriter reporter, Robert Messenger, has gone in-depth just for you. Click on the Brother.




57% Typewriters

In addition to my duties teaching English, I am also the Newspaper and Yearbook adviser. It is my job to make sure that the budding journalists of Alhambra work hard and get the news out. We have just finished with our second edition (No. 2) of the school newspaper, the Scimitar. 


Getting a school newspaper out is not easy. Keeping teens focused on what is newsworthy and what is just junk takes some deftness. Also, our news cycle is a month long. That makes some of our stories a little old by press time, but the experience of working on a paper newspaper is one that they won't have anywhere else. Last year's editor is now at the Cronkite School at Arizona State University working on her journalism degree.
As proud as I am of my students for putting together such a great edition, I am also proud to say that over 1/2 of the stories in this newspaper began as drafts written on a typewriter. They have been edited and edited again digitally, but they began as typewritten stories. …

Silencing Chatty Selectrics: Operation GUNMAN

On March 25, 1985 Dan Rather reported that the Soviet Union had successfully penetrated the United States Embassy in Moscow. The Soviets had placed bugs inside IBM Selectric IIs located in sensitive areas. These bugs were able to easily read what was being typed on these typewriters. Until this incident occurred, US Security agencies believed that the ISSR had only been bugging audio, but the typewriter bugs were the first plain-text threat they ever encountered. Moreover, the bug itself was uniquely created to take advantage of the electro-mechanical nature of the IBM Selectric II. All-told 16 bugs were found hidden inside IBM Selectrics (both IIs and IIIs) and the story of their discovery and operation is a fascinating part of typewriter lore.
The relationship between the United States and Soviet Union during the late 70s and 80s was strained and both sides were actively using covert methods to infiltrate each other’s embassies. While the extent of the United States’ eavesdropping …