Ray Bradbury used 98 dimes to write the first draft of "Fahrenheit 451" on a coin-operated typewriter

Before PCs and word processors, coin-operated typewriters were am option for people who couldn't afford their own machines. You could find them in places like train stations, libraries, and hotels. These typewriters offered a pay-as-you-go typing service, making them accessible to travelers, students, and writers.

To use the typewriter, you would insert a coin or token, and it would unlock for a specific period of time. Once the time was up, the machine would lock again, requiring another coin to continue typing. Typically, these typewriters had a timer mechanism that would stop the carriage return when time ran out, ensuring that users paid for every minute of use.

In 1949, Ray Bradbury typed a short story, "The Fireman," on a coin-operated typewriter. He spent $9.80, which is equivalent to around $110 today, over a span of nine days in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library to complete his manuscript. The story was the bases for his novel, Fahrenheit 451.

From a 2012 LA Times article by Carolyn Kellogg:

The writing refuge Bradbury found was in the basement of the Lawrence Clark Powell Library at UCLA — and in fact, it wasn't all that quiet. 'I heard this typing,' he explained. 'I went down in the basement of the UCLA library and by God there was a room with 12 typewriters in it that you could rent for 10 cents a half-hour. And there were eight or nine students in there working away like crazy.'

So he went to the bank and returned with a bag of dimes. He plugged a dime into the machine, typed fast for 30 minutes, and then dropped another. When he took breaks, he went upstairs to the library, soaking in a book-loving ambience he was making forbidden in the fiction he was writing below. He took books off the shelves, finding quotes, then ran downstairs to write some more. Nine days — and $9.80 in dimes later — he'd written 'Fahrenheit 451.' Almost.

What he'd finished there was 'The Fireman,' a short story published in Galaxy magazine in 1951. Later, he expanded the story into 'Fahrenheit 451,' which was published in paperback by Ballantine.

Here's an IBM Electric "Coin Operated" Model B Executive, circa 1954.

• This is a 1960s TV commercial for prunes starring Ray Bradbury