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The age of pencils and paper has passed

December 31, 2010
By Jim Whipple

This is a blank sheet of paper.

When I was a kid it was a piece of white paper which had a head and several lines. Then you would take a pen, or in most cases a pencil, and write a complete sentence.

The standard definition of a sentence is a group of words containing a subject and a predicate expressing a complete thought. "The white horse fell in the mud," is an example of a complete sentence.

The teacher would say that word is misspelled, and I would have to use the other end of the pencil which had a small eraser. Pretty soon the beautiful white lined paper had smudges and all had to be copied on a clean sheet of paper.

The teacher wanted four copies of my page, so I took a piece of carbon paper. That was a sheet that had ink on one side. You put it in between two sheets of paper and would again copy the page you had written. To get four copies you had to do it twice.

All of this could take a full morning depending on your printing skills and your knowledge of being a good speller. I spent half of my youth redoing papers.

In the winter of 1954 I could have used a computer. The only computer available at the time in my world was in the comic books and, oh yes, "Captain Video" on Channel 5 on a very small TV.

This day in age you sit down at a computer and bang out 250 words in just under 15 minutes. You correct the spelling and grammar and send it off to the teacher.

If she wants more than one copy, you hit a button and make several copies and send them off.

Sometimes I feel cheated. I am one of the lucky ones that picked up knowing how to use a computer fairly easily, but I cannot help but think how much of my life was taken away because writing had to be done by hand on a physical piece of paper. A pencil was used and by your side was an old, well-used Webster Dictionary.

I remember the date on the dictionary my grandmother gave me was from 1918. Another thing my grandmother gave me was a very old Underwood typewriter. It must have weighed at least 30 pounds and looked to be made out of cast iron. It still worked and all of the keys were there. Even the ribbon, a spool with a cloth tape that had ink on it, was almost new. It was a little faster than writing or printing everything in long hand. But again, if you misspelled a word, you had to take a typewriter eraser and erase the word. When you retyped the word, it would come out either a little above or a little below the sentence you were typing.

It took me just under 50 minutes to write this article of just over 500 words.

Now you could write a book without ever touching a pencil, pen or a piece of paper or carrying around a 30-pound typewriter.

Now you do not even have to type the word; you just speak very clearly and what you are saying will come out in sentence form on the computer.

Some families have a camera that if you hook it up, you can call another person who has the same set up and speak face-to-face.

Let's see what the future will bring. I still have a drawer full of old pencils and plenty of paper.

 
 
 

 

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