Sending email via typewriter, sort of

Martin A. Rice Jr., an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, does not like the "mushy" keys on computer keyboards. Here's how he sends email:
Mr. Rice explains all this over a rotary telephone from the 1970s. Later he bangs out a follow-up message on his 1938 Underwood Champion portable typewriter. Mr. Rice will often write a letter on his typewriter, scan it into his computer, and then send the image as an e-mail attachment. "Some people are tickled by it," he says. "Some people are absolutely annoyed."


  1. He should just get a better keyboard. Or is that too complicated?

    Similar vein: My dad has faxed me printed versions of web sites. Or printed then scanned and emailed them to me. Like I couldn’t find Google Maps, for example?

  2. I once created a website that was comprised solely of scanned-in notebook paper, on which I had written the text. I drew little boxes to click in, and did the whole thing as a series of image maps. It was ugly and a bit slow to load, but way easier for me to create– and it got the job done. Hooray for tech mash-ups!

  3. So the guy wastes a sheet of paper for every email?
    That’s ridiculous.
    He should try an IBM Model M keyboard.

  4. As a former UPJ faculty brat, let me assure you that there is not much better to do with your time there than cultivate amusing eccentricities.

  5. My boss after sending and receiving every email, prints it and then deletes the electronic version (you know, to save on clutter).

    Also, if he wants me to send an email, he sits down at his typewirter and writes everything out on letterhead, which I then copy by hand into an email client.

  6. A philosophy prof, you say?

    “The theoretical broadening which comes from having many humanities subjects on the campus is offset by the general dopiness of the people who study these things…”
    –Richard Feynman

  7. I had Dr. Rice for my Intro to Philosophy class way back in the day, and I can totally imagine him doing something like this. He was definitely out there, but on his weirdest days, he had a way of tying it all together. Glad to see he’s still kicking.

  8. Had I the skills, I’d build a working steampunk laptop just for my dad, who has not yet migrated from his old Consul typewriter. The rat-tat-tatatat-ding! of his more creative moments is a well-known sound in our house.
    He still does all of his writing on the typewriter, makes corrections in fountain pen, then delivers the lot to my mother who types it into the computer.
    But he’s getting a laptop this Christmas, and we will see if he can finally make the leap. I hope he doesn’t completely. I’ve listened to the sound of his typewriter all my life, and I’m sure I’d miss it.

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