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Olivetti Praxis 48

It was because of poor penmanship. There were several of us who were evidently judged in need of intervention by virtue of how we wrote. Perhaps they will write more neatly if they see how neat things could be.

So several times a week, we were excused to a glass-walled room behind our fifth grade classroom where there were rows of scrumptious Olivetti Praxis 48 electric typewriters.

src: Wikipedia commons

The keys were labelled with green “frosting”. They were smooth and contoured and caressed your fingertips. And they had carriage return keys on both sides of the keyboard. I was in heaven. 

In the end my cursive did not improve, and as I recall, the experiment didn’t last very long — likely just a thesis for a graduate student at that long-since-shuttered laboratory school. Still, I did learn to touch type. 

Years later, when computers swept onto the scene, I remember remembering those twin carriage return keys. At first, I felt cheated that computer keyboards so obviously catered to the right-handed typists, and then I began to doubt my memory. Perhaps there had not been two carriage return keys after all.

This morning I finally looked for evidence. When I found the picture above, a flood of memories of using the machine instantly came back. And although the picture is tantalizing, it is ambiguous, since the keys in question are not labeled. But those are, I tell you, the two carriage return keys (as you can clearly see here), and now I know that my memory was not playing tricks.

Two carriage return keys. Imagine it. Oh the world that could have been.