According to the internet, a gentleman named Mueller has written a report. I’ve not read it and have only the haziest notion of its content, gleaned from the Twitterati.
What interests me about this report I haven’t read is that the text was almost certainly typed by a person of advanced years, someone who spent most of their life pounding a mechanical typewriter. It could even have been the 75-year-old Robert Swan Mueller III himself.
How do we infer this? Well, whoever typed that report adhered to the old typewriter convention of adding two spaces after punctuation, notably the full point, period, stop, or full stop. Until the computer came along, with its unbridled access to a vast range of proportionally spaced type fonts, the typewriter was my workhorse and every character had the same space.
Typewriter manufacturers, in the main, offered us two typefaces, both similar. One was Pica and the other Elite. If you wanted a machine with a larger typeface you’d go for Pica, spaced at ten characters per inch, while the smaller Elite face, with twelve characters per inch, was often preferred by individuals for private correspondence. It was somehow more personal.
There were other distinctive fonts available to special order. I remember government ministers and departments preferring an extra-large large typeface which underscored their importance.
The significant aspect of all these typefaces was that they were monospaced. Every character, whether
Computers were easily capable of handling proportionally spaced fonts, such as the ubiquitous Times Roman, and ordinary mortals were able to produce texts which looked every bit as good as the printed page.
It dawned on users that adding two spaces after punctuation created an ugly white splodge amid the close-knit typography. Experienced typists then trained themselves to avoid the traditional double-tap on the space bar. I was one of them.
Now, I suspect, the vast majority of writers use the one-space convention.
But I do know of one unique individual who uses the no-space convention — with the next sentence merging into the previous
Another friend, a neighbour, is willing to stake his life on the use of two spaces after a point. When discussing the issue recently he was
Undoubtedly, though, the two-space versus one-space issue is no longer relevant. Anyone who learned to type on computers, probably anyone under 40, will use the one-space method.
Oldies are mixed in their prejudices and this leads to the suspicion that Mueller the Third prodded the computer keys himself when producing his epic.
While this convention has surrendered to the computer age, the main relic of the typewriter age lives on in the form of the keyboard. At a very early age, I learned to pronounce it as a sentence: Qwerty-you-ee-op,
Now, of course, it’s all in the muscle reflexes. But it need not have been if the new computer had been accompanied by a
Here we are in 2019 and it seems unlikely that the qwerty keyboard, with its many faults, will be superseded any time soon. It is far more likely that voice recognition will bring the keyboard era to an end, especially for day-to-day writing and web browsing.
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- Ancient laptop: Olivetti Lettera 22
- Typewriters out, computers in
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