Sunday 17 March 2013

More on the Deighton Word Processor story ...

Obsolete technology?
Friend and Deighton biographer Edward Milward-Oliver points readers in the direction of another article in today's Observer newspaper, by James Bridle, entitled 'The Power of the Pen'. It picks up on the interested generated by the Slate article on Len Deighton's pioneering use of the word processor, and includes a quote from science fiction writer William Gibson on the power a computer gives the author to develop his or her story.

Clearly, this subject's generated a lot of interest from writers and readers alike. If I see more pick up of it in the media and online I'll post the links for readers here.

Further update: the curator of e-manuscripts at the British Library has also referenced this earlier article, and added his own spin, including some interesting new photographs.


  1. Just when Deighton was writing his novels in 1970s, Robert Ludlum was writing his best sellers on long hand using a box of HB pencils and yellow writing pad (which we all did in those days in American universities). Well, he did produce all his best sellers using the obsolete technology!! What was important was Ludlum's imagination which a computer scientist like me really appreciated then and still do.

  2. I have been following these articles quite closely. In the early 90's I learned to type on an old IBM golfball Selectrix. When the first Gulf War was raging, our world history class was tasked with producing summaries of articles about the war on posters for presentation. I used my Dad's Brother word processor to type up the summary, used stencils to make the headline, and scissors and paste for the pictures. Something which could be done on an iPad today in probably a quarter of the time. The Brother WP was quite bulky, but no crane was needed :-)