The machinery

One of the issues I’ve struggled with over the years is the physical process of writing. When I wrote UG and the first incarnation of TNK (see the introduction post) I did not have the distraction of always on internet. Much of UG was written at an admin job that gave me plenty of spare time to look busy at a computer, with no internet connection to the outside world (probably unthinkable these days). TNK #1 was written in the mornings before I went off to work (a different job by now) but before the days of widespread broadband, so the internet was still dial-up and therefore not so tempting.

Since then, whenever my thoughts have turned to writing I’ve looked for a machine that would just enable me to crank out raw text that can then be pasted into a word processor – no other distractions, no pinging emails or Facebook notifications. I bought crappy old laptops on Ebay, my main worry there being that if they suddenly died, so did my text. I found a word processor on Freecycle, I don’t mean a copy of MS Word or Libreoffice, but an actual physical word processor – an Olivetti PTP820 to be precise. I would link to an article but it’s so old all I can find are entries on sales sites! It ticks most of the boxes to be fair, all it does is produce text and if the power is turned off and back on you can pick up from where you left off, but it is big and cumbersome and even a simple action such as saving the text to floppy disk (yes!) requires a good deal of head-scratching and trying to remember which sequence of buttons to press. Plus the apostrophe is above one of the number keys and where that should be is a 7/8 character so I end up typing that instead. It7/8s very annoying.

While messing around online researching this morning, I found out about a company called Alphasmart. The machines they make seem absolutely ideal for my purposes and there are plenty of them on Ebay. I’m currently waiting to hear about a Best Offer I’ve put in for a 3000 (more on that here) but even if I don’t get it there’s another one finishing tomorrow afternoon and there are bound to be plenty more over the next week or two. It would be good to have one before the end of the month, but not the end of the world if I don’t get it.

I am aware that by concentrating on the tools of the trade rather than the trade itself I’m not far removed by someone who decides to take up golf, buys all the clubs etc, then plays one round and then leaves the clubs gathering dust in the garage. Time will tell!

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The machinery

One thought on “The machinery

  1. I started drafting on an alphasmart 3000, but after a year or two upgraded to an alphasmart Neo. Currently, both machines are around the same price. If you can get a Neo I think you’ll be happier. It holds larger files and the keyboard is slightly more ergonomic. The AS3T will get the job done though! I still keep mine as a backup. 🙂 Happy writing!

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