FROM the moment I started typing stuff my future was secured. And I wasn’t satisfied having to do this on a typewriter because I knew about the computer, so I fought my way to using one whenever the opportunity presented itself.
At University I remember having an argument with a colleague over the future of the typewriter and to this day I can recall the despair I felt in the pit of my stomach over how much he believed that owning a typewriter after university was an important objective. I had been luckier – having learnt how to type proficiently in my senior four vacation, and even that after years of playing with various machines thanks to my mother’s profession.
By the time we began our first year course, I already owned a typewriter – an electronic one, at that. The university required us, however, to register and borrow typewriters from a basement troll who had obviously spent very many years at this job and treasured his charges.
He released typewriters to us with the same vigour a serious orphanage sanctioned an adoption, and woe unto you if you caused any damage whatsoever to his precious machines.
I tried not to borrow one, since I had my own, but some stupidity of bureaucracy had it that if I didn’t get my name registered as having taken a typewriter out then it would be believed that I had not taken enough of an interest in the course…and I would score an F or something.
The university had no clue and probably didn’t care that I had already done a computer course – word processing of the early days type though – in my senior four vacation, after learning how to type asdf round jul;.
I was so good, at my level, that I had been allowed into a newspaper office in senior six vacation to type out my own stories at a speed that had the senior journalists extremely worried about their own future at the paper. Better still, while the university issue typewriter decorated my drab room, I was spending time at a donor-funded project office doing data entry off a computer with a black screen and green lettering.
A couple of my colleagues in that room were proper adults and couldn’t keep up, which forced me to step up and type up some of their stuff just so the project could end as soon as possible so we could get paid and I could go drinking.
By that time, I had been typing out words, sentences, paragraphs and stories – not for publication – almost daily for about five years. Every time I got to my parents’ offices I was at the typewriter – and my mother’s office moreso because she had a sea of the machines, being a secretarial trainer.
Long story short, by second year I was hanging out at the Infocom offices every Saturday making free, unfettered use of the internet and got to cover much more ground than the rest of the group (which included the girl who eventually became my wife) because I typed faster than they all did.
And by then, I had already mastered a way of filing stories with the newspapers on a weekly basis without going through lots of white-out (that fluid or cream we used back then to correct typing errors), paper or time. I discovered quickly that editors liked a fellow who handed in clean copy within few minutes of having returned to the newsroom.
My advantage lead over the rest was widened with the introduction of a small computer that sat neglected in one corner of the newsroom and was reportedly reserved for some ‘expert’. I wasn’t having any of that and made full use of the thing, much to the chagrin of many older folk.
And I wasn’t alone in this. A couple of friends – Allen Mutono and Paul Busharizi – were in on the passion and acquired an old Macintosh that became our high value work plaything. When we first walked into the newsroom to simply “hand in” our stories instead of queuing up at typewriters to type them out, we were marveled at.
The Editor on hand didn’t quite know what to do with us, but after a few seconds made mind up to go with the flow and voila! We were being published hassle-free.
The story goes on to many lengths, but I know it all started with me being a young teenager encouraged to make use of the very best technologies available.
That’s why my seven-year-old has an iMac, and my two-year old is given the iPad (not mine, of course, my wife’s) whenever she asks for it.
Start them young and something good is bound to happen.Hits:566