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Monday 16 December 2013

Too Hot for Laptops, But Typewriters Kept Working

Attention all journalists:
(Kitchener would know: he led the army at Omdurman)
The Blickensderfer 5 typewriter thrived in the 120 degrees plus heat of Omdurman in the Sudan in 1898. 
Laptops like this were zapped by the 100 degrees plus heat of Perth, Western Australia, during the Ashes cricket Test*.
Journalists had to put their laptops in a drinks fridge in the Media Marquee at the WACA Cricket Ground in Perth.
One wrote that "at any one time there can be up to six laptops in the fridge as journalists take evasive action to stop the tool of their trade from blowing up."

No such bother for the Blick in the Sudan ...
In 1898, Lionel James galloped toward the battlefront, his Blick on his lap, the typewriter still working exactly as it was designed to do. 

One of my Blickensderfer 5s, seen at the top of this post, is of the same 1898 vintage as Lionel James's, yet it has an ink pad which STILL CONTAINS INK, 115 years on!!! It still prints.
Please, please, please show me the computer printer which will still print in 2128!
On the 114th anniversary of the Battle of Omdurman,
in September last year, Canberra primary schoolchildren proved the Blick still has its ink.


When Colonel Lionel James CBE DSO, riding a camel, used his Blickensderfer 5 typewriter to cover for Reuters The Battle of Omdurman on September 2, 1898, he was typing in heat which, at that time of year, has been known to reach above 125 degrees (almost 52 Celsius).
Omdurman's average temperature for September is more than 102 degrees (39 Celsius) - even the month's average low is 79 degrees (26 Celsius).
Omdurman is one of the hottest places on earth. But it wasn't too hot for James and his little Blick.
In 1901, after using the same typewriter to cover the Siege of Ladysmith (in the Natal during the Second Boer War, November 2, 1899-February 28, 1900) for the London Times, James wrote to the Blickensderfer Manufacturing Company saying that, "In my opinion it has been tested as highly as it is possible to test a typewriter." Using carbon paper, James was also able to keep copies of all of his dispatches.
James called the Blick "the war correspondent's best friend" and Punch magazine labelled James “one of the princes of the Golden Age of War Correspondence”.
To celebrate James's efforts in the Sudan in 1898, this “German Cinderella, or poster stamp” was painted by Munich artist Julius Edmond Robert Nitsche. It is headed “Reuters Korrespondent im Omdurman-Feldzuge [campaign]”. 
In the Omdurman campaign, an army commanded by the British General Sir Herbert Kitchener defeated the army of Abdullah al-Taashi, the successor to the self-proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad, marking the success of British efforts to re-conquer the Sudan.
Read the full story of Lionel James (1871-1955) on my blog post of August last year here.
James not alone typed descriptions of famous battles as they happened, he also he made sketches from which artists later worked. Here a Sikh cavalry unit of the British Malakand Field Force charges on Pathan tribesmen controlling a crossing of the Swat river during the Chitral campaign, north-west India, on April 7, 1895. The drawing is by John Charlton "after a sketch by Lionel James."
*Like the journalists' laptops, the England cricket team has wilted in Perth's heat wave. They haven't even bothered to make an effort to save the Ashes and beat Australia in the Third Test. So much for the "British bulldog spirit" of Kitchener and James! These guys are just arch wimps!
But, then, that's like comparing a bulldog Blick with a wimpy laptop!


shordzi said...

This is conclusive evidence you present here. I am sure to get my Blick soon.

Bill M said...

Sounds like Perth is like Florida -- too hot.

Being in electronics for decades I can make a long list of the modern day electronic devices and the propaganda manufacturers use to sell junk.

Properly designed and quality manufactured mechanical devices -- typewriters -- work and will work long after any electronic device.

Richard P said...

Hoorah for the Blick and Lionel James!