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Wednesday 6 August 2014

Andy Rooney, his Toshiba and his 17 Underwood 5 Typewriters

From My War, by Andy Rooney (1995):
Andrew Aitken "Andy" Rooney (January 14, 1919-November 4, 2011) was an American radio and television writer. He was best known for his weekly broadcast "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney", a part of the CBS News program 60 Minutes, from 1978 to 2011. His final regular appearance on 60 Minutes aired on October 2, 2011. He died one month later, on November 4, 2011, at age 92.
Why Computers Are Screwed Up
It's A Good Thing Bill Gates Didn't Invent Television
Andy Rooney - November 13, 2003
One day about 10 years ago, the door to my office opened and in walked Bill Gates. I knew his name but really didn't know much about him.
He seemed like a nice guy, and he's done more good things with his money than most billionaires, but that's as far as I want to go being kind to Bill Gates.
Someone screwed up the way computers work and I blame it on him. People like to think that loveable old Andy Rooney still uses this 1920 Underwood typewriter.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but he doesn't. I wrote eight books on that and thousands of television scripts, but I've written on a computer for several years now.
It's a great tool for a writer - but maddening.
Actually, I've written on a lot of computers. I had one typewriter for 50 years, but I've bought seven computers in six years. I suppose that's why Bill Gates is rich and Underwood is out of business.
They make computers so you have to buy a new one whenever there's a full moon. If my Underwood had been a computer, I'd have had to buy a new one every time I needed a new ribbon because Bill Gates would have designed new ribbons so they didn't fit last year's typewriter.
The thing you press to turn on the power on some of my old computers is in a different place on each one of them. You reach around in back to turn on one computer. One is on the left side. And another one is on the top, on the right.
Bill Gates got off on the wrong foot the first time he decided to turn off his computer. Do you simply press a button that says OFF when you want to turn it off? You do not. The first thing he has us do to stop is to press START.
Makes sense, doesn't it?
Next, it asks SHUT DOWN?
Then it says WHAT DO YOU WANT IT TO DO? Well, didn't I just tell you what I want it to do? It isn't finished either. It asks SHUT DOWN THE COMPUTER? What the hell else do you think I want to shut down? The bedroom window?   
Computers aren't nice to us. My typewriter never threatened me with a prison sentence by saying I have performed an illegal operation.
When I want to write something, the computer demands a password. In all the years I wrote on my typewriter, it never asked for a password, and no one ever stole anything I wrote either.
All I can say is it's a good thing Bill Gates didn't invent television. If it took as long to start up a television set as it takes to start up a computer, you'd need two hours to watch 60 Minutes.


TonysVision said...

Thanks very much for the reminder of Andy Rooney. I'd had no idea about his relationship with Underwoods. I have a No. 4 and a No. 5, and always look forward to using them. I love his comments on Microsoft operating system design - I, too, always shook my head at how a software engineer could come up with the concept of clicking a button labeled "Start" to turn the darned thing off.

Anonymous said...

Seventeen No. 5s? I've never heard of anyone having such an affinity for one particular machine. I'd love to find one that works...

Anonymous said...

Wow 17 Underwoods. That's quite an attachment! And of course he was so right about computers.

Don Lampert said...

W"hy computers are screwed up!" - I love it!!
Especially pc's are screwed up. I won't use em. A friend gave me a new out of the box HP. It took my friend about 6 - 8 hours to get it set up. Then it never did work - it was constantly interrupting to do "updates" and would take about 5-6 minutes to start up or shut down. I almost threw it across the room several times. I finally went back to my older, slower, but at least reliable Mac "work horse"