Tools of the (Writing) Trade

Here’s an interesting piece in of literary trivia that was in the Authors Guild Bulletin (Spring 2012). Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, an English professor at the University of Maryland, gave a lecture recently at the New York Public entitled, “Stephen King’s Wang.” King’s first computer was a Wang.

Kirschendaum collects old computers and hopes to discover “Who was the first novelist to use a word processor?”

Mark Twain was the first to use a typewriter, for Life on the Mississippi, and The New York Times quotes Nietzsche, who typed, “Our writing tools are also working on our thoughts.”

One of the earliest bestsellers written on a computer was Tom Clancy’s 1984 The Hunt for Red October. Frank Herbert’s Dune may have been submitted to his publisher in the late 1970s on 8-inch floppy disks, according to Kirschendaum.

Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing is due for publication in 2013 or, according to the Times, “as soon as he can finish tapping it out on his iBuyPower 64-bit laptop.”

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