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#53 “There Goes My Baby”

It wasn’t going to be easy. That was why I planned to do it over the weekend.

Already I felt pangs of loss in my belly. By Sunday the die was cast. I’d spent the morning looking at electronics ads and making calls to stores. At last I settled on a Kaypro 2 computer.

My throat felt tight. I was sweating. It wasn’t just because buying a computer that at sixteen hundred dollars ($4,100 in 2022 dollars) meant I would be shelling out five hundred more than I had for my beloved IBM Selectric II typewriter.

No one who didn’t go through the transition from the IBM Selectric I to the Selectric II can begin to appreciate what writers felt for the Selectric II. Released in 1971, with a spinning ball typing element that moved along the paper and (OMG!) magical lift-off tape that spelled the death knell of Wite-Out, it was a quantum leap in typewriters.

Forget about The Jetsons. The Selectric II was going to be the technological state-of-the-art for the next hundred years!

And then my doorbell rang. And then a dad and his eighteen-year-old daughter were walking into my living room. And then the dad was counting out three hundred and fifty bucks.

Minutes later I walked out onto my balcony, looked down, saw them walking to a station wagon with my Selectric II. “There goes my baby…”

I turned, saw Jean out on his balcony. He smiled. I couldn’t bring myself to smile back.

I walked back into my living room. What had I done?


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