The minute I saw the Killian memo on the Little Green Footballs blog I knew it was a fake. I could not have articulated the reasons as well as some of the Lizardoids there but it was obvious that the document was not produced in the early 1970s. Typewritten documents just did not look like that!
I could understand why somebody under 30 years of age, who may have never seen a typewriter in his life could be fooled. But how could Dan Rather, the veteran reporter, not recognize such an amateur fraud?
This whole incident made me think back to the early 1970s. Imagine a world without cellphones, email, internet, personal computers and fax machines. I remember how my mother (may she live until 120) used to help me with my school reports, typing them on a Remington typewriter that she probably bought in the 1950s. You had to have strong fingers to press down those keys! I distinctly remember the sound of the bell when you would reach the end of the line, and the sound that was made when my mom would return the "carriage". (That's right kiddies. CRLF means "carriage return line feed" and that meant pushing a lever that would physically move the carriage back the beginning of the line. This action would simultaneously rotate the page one line down!) In school the tests and quizzes were printed on ditto sheets. The Xerox copying machines were yet to be born. The print was purple, sometimes barely legible. These ditto sheets had a smell that I was not too fond of.
In college thing were not much different. Mom was not around to type my papers so I had to do it myself. I used a portable Smith Corona typewriter that my brother had also used. Correcting mistakes was a pain in the you know what. Even worse, the only spelling checker we had back then was our brains!
In those days the Texas Instruments pocket calculators had just come out. Previously, engineering students would walk around with sliderules. Now how many of you know what a sliderule looks like? Who today would know how tho use one?
Technology has certainly advanced. But have we really become any wiser?