It’s a long time since I wrote anything at all with a pencil or a pen: filling out forms, signing documents, scrawling notes incomprehensible to anyone else.
First typewriter : a Consul portable bought in 1970 for $30.00 in a 2nd hand shop on K Road. Same place where I got my compleat Shakespeare (onionskin paper) for rather less – six dollars? Still got the Shakespeare.
Purchased, new, in Wellington, an Imperial portable that I carried all around the world and gave eventually to a Frenchman in Sydney not long after I got here. He was meant to be helping me with my André Breton translations but once he had the typewriter, lost interest. Curled his lip and went back to La Belle France.
Bought a Brother electric that was ok.
An electronic Olivetti that had some kind of vestigial memory, gave me nothing but trouble. Still have some pieces I typed on it but. Nice typeface. Pica.
Moved into a squat, no electricity, bought a 2nd hand 1950s Olivetti cast iron frame desktop manual ($80.00), a beautiful machine. Let it go a few years back when I got sick of carrying it from place to place every time I moved. Bad decision, they’re worth a lot now and they never break down.
First computer : an Amstrad 9512, a disastrous investment even though I loved it at first. Had a bizarre daisywheel printer that was so user unfriendly most of what I wrote stayed on disk; later discovered disks incompatible with those of all other machines; wrote my first real book on it but subsequently lost approx. five year’s occasional writing when I sent the disks off to some old Amstrad freak to get 'translated' and they never came back. Luckily most of it no good.
An early Apple Mac portable, a Powerbook 150. Loved it more than the Amstrad, with which it coexisted for a while. Gave me RSI, hunched over the small keyboard for hours. Was stolen just after I sent away the ms of my second book; lost about three years of occasional writing, some of which was ok. I think.
First PC, assembled by a sometime friend who worked in a computer warehouse and put it together for her then girlfriend, who left her for someone else. Bought in haste after the theft of the Mac. Cost a grand. Crashed on average once an hour, sometimes once a minute … endless problems. Wrote my third book on it but nothing else ever came to fruition even though there was a lot. A beige box, left by the side of the road.
A Dell. I phoned Penang in Malaysia with my specs, they sent them to a warehouse in Sydney, the machine arrived on the doorstep not too long after that. Wrote the beginning and the end of Luca Antara on it, the middle was done on a brand new HP at the University of Auckland. The Dell's still going, it’s what my kids use for whatever they get up to in cyberspace.
This machine, a G5 Mac. I hope and pray …