There was an obituary in the business section
that touched me more than those of most humans:
the last manual typewriter made in America
rolled off an assembly line at Smith-Corona
and was presented to some bigwig
in a light-hearted ceremony.

Thus we condemn generations
who will have to try to think
while machines hum Get busy! Get busy!--
while cursors blink with mindless patience,
while screens fill up with easy blather.

I look around at my old friends:
   the stolid Olympia that does the daily work
   the wide-carriage Remington with the soft touch
   the Royal, sixty years old, China Red Art Deco
     (my favorite machine of loving grace)
   the Olivetti Valentine, also red, high-impact plastic
     (throw it under an airplane seat and go!)

No wires
No batteries
No impatient noise

   All of them ready
   to write anything, anywhere
   without moving one single damned electron.

And so I see a future
where a few of us old codgers
trade secrets for cutting out ribbons and inking them
trade parts as our machines give way to entropy

and keep on typing noisily along
(with blessed silence in between the phrases)
while all you others

   tap on your humming Selectrics
   caress the Apple keyboard
   play with your Wangs

and never know the simple joy
of pounding keys
to push the right word into place.

 --Joe Haldeman

reprinted with permission

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