An Odd Typewriter: Mystery Solved!

Last month I wrote a post about an old typewriter that I found in a vintage shop which did not have a 1: https://danielshankcruz.com/2012/08/11/an-odd-typewriter/.

It looks like there is room for a 1, but it is not there. The lowercase L does double duty.

Yesterday I was talking with an older friend who learned to type on a similar model that also did not have a 1. She said that she was taught to use the lowercase L (l) in place of the 1. This makes sense in that the 1 and the l in Courier, the most common typewriter font, are virtually identical. Therefore, the basic mystery is solved.

But the omission of the 1 still does not make sense to me. There is room on the keyboard for a 1, and another symbol could be added to the keyboard via the shift function if this extra key was added. Excluding the 1 because the l was already there feels like efficiency for efficiency’s sake, not practicality’s sake. I wonder when this practice of excluding the 1 discontinued–was it with the advent of electric typewriters, or before? Had qwerty keyboards always excluded the 1, or was it some sort of mid-century “innovation”? Questions remain.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: