Best Of Grizzard - Computers

  • Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The graduates of a high school typing class at either Edmondson or McKenzie Business schools who learned to type on a manual typewriter are almost extinct.

Lewis Grizzard, Jr. (LG) in a chapter titled “Somebody Pull the Plug on Modernity” contained in “Elvis is Dead, and I Don’t Feel So Good Myself” (Peachtree Publishers 1984) addresses the rapid progression from his beloved manual Royal typewriter to computers during his lifetime between 1947-1994.

His reluctance to convert his method of producing the copy for his 450 syndicated newspapers during his writing career displayed once again his unique qualities that made him the most read Southern humorist of his day.

He first expresses his independent nature as follows:

“I definitely could do without computers. In fact, I may be one of the last holdouts against computers, and I can prove it by explaining that I am typing these very words on a 1959 manual Royal typewriter for which I paid ninety bucks and wouldn’t sell for five times that, because I don’t know if I would be able to find another one.

"People in the swing of modern ways often say to me, 'Why don’t you get yourself one of those word processors? It would make writing a lot easier for you."

"No, it wouldn’t. First, I would have to sit for hours at a time staring at a television screen with words on it. It would be like watching one of those cable television stations where they play music in the background and words appear on the screen, giving you the news and baseball line scores."

He also admitted being puzzled by the rapid development of computers:

1. Computer shopping: Do we really want to shop by computer? The instant you see a TV commercial, you press a button on your computer and a conveyor belt delivers Ginsu knives to your kitchen and deducts $14.95 from your account. Could you really tell if a pair of loafers would fit by looking at them on a video monitor?

2. Easy-to-use computers: That’s easy for somebody else to say. I can barely operate a bottle of aspirin.

3. Talking computers: Now there are even cars that talk to you. “You need gas, you need gas,” says your car. Talking cars give me gas.

4. Understanding computers: Where do all those cables on computers go to? Is there a little Oriental guy in a room somewhere with an abacus going a mile a minute? What’s the difference between “software” and “hardware”? Is one part wool and itches a lot? Is a “semiconductor” a person who works for the railroad part-time?

5. Computer dating: What if the computer doesn’t mind girls who don’t shave their legs and gets me a date with one? I’m the one who has to kiss her goodnight, not the computer.

6. Personal computers: I don’t want to get personal with a computer. I wasn’t compatible with three wives. How am I supposed to be compatible with IBM?

You know something else about computers? There’s nothing funny about them. In doing research for this chapter, I looked in several computer magazines. There was not a single joke section or cartoon in any of them.

The big question we must all ask is, where is this computer business going to end?

Lewis Grizzard, Jr. died before he could get an answer to this question.

(Does any reader believe that he could adjust to a computer on his wristwatch?)

* * *

You can reach Jerry Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com

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