Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.

A New Keyboard, Glorious and Powerful

A New Keyboard, Glorious and Powerful

Once upon a time, I had a 1966 Chrysler 300. It was a gleaming, chrome monstrosity from a better, vanished time. The engine alone was bigger than than a Toyota Prius and the chassis rode on something called Torque-Flight suspension. Which is a fancy term for two twisted bars of steel. To understand how it worked, imagine taking a metal ruler and twisting the ends in opposite directions. The ruler would want to return to it’s normal, restful state. This provided the spring action for the Chrysler’s suspension. Yes, that’s right. Two pieces of metal under constant, tortured strain.

I believe it was this ferrous agony, carefully hidden from the driver underneath layers of chrome and upholstery, is what gave the car its luxurious ride. Drive it was to feel that all others, in their newer, smaller cars, were suffering. And that you, the comfortable royalty of the American road, could only feel sorry for them. There was no road rage inside the the Chrysler 300, but there was a great deal of understanding. No wonder that guy in the Honda is upset. He’s trapped in an angry little car.

Which leads me to my new keyboard. It is a recreation of an IBM Model M Keyboard that was first manufactured in in 1985. (In computer years, this is the Jurassic period.) My keyboard, manufactured by Unicomp operates on a buckling-spring design. Instead of the mushy membrane keyboard design that rules the earth today, inside this keyboard lies something a little fiercer. Inside each key there is a tiny spring under constant strain. And when a key is pressed, this spring buckles in half and cries out with a click of pain.

If you are the kind of person who types with two or three fingers, then you won’t appreciate what this keyboard can do. But if you are the kind of person who can hammer out a 1000 words before breakfast, then this is the keyboard for you. It’s industrial strength. It’s Bona Fide.

When you are really going at it, the individual clicks of this keyboard blend into a roar. And this roar propels you forward. The louder it gets, the louder you want it to get. And you start to suspect that if you could just type a little faster, the sound of the words flowing out of you would take on a high-pitched whine, like a powerful turbine or a reactor powerful enough to bend the laws of physics.

To paraphrase Tom Robbins, “If this keyboard can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.”

If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.

This is the all-new Remington SL3, the machine that answers the question, “Which is harder, trying to read The Brothers Karamazov while listening to Stevie Wonder records or hunting for Easter eggs on a typewriter keyboard?”  This is the cherry on top of the cowgirl.  The burger served by the genius waitress.  The Empress card.

I sense that the novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3–although it writes much faster than I can spell.  And no matter that my typing finger was pinched last week by a giant land crab.  This baby speaks electric Shakespeare at the slightest provocation and will rap out a page and a half if you just look at it hard.

“What are you looking for in a typewriter?” the salesman asked.

“Something more than words, ” I replied.  “Crystals.  I want to send my reader armloads of crystals, some of which are the colors of orchids and peonies, some of which pick up radio signals from a secret city that is half Paris and half Coney Island.”



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