Mark Twain famously prepared the manuscript for Life on the Mississippi (1883) with his new Remington typewriter, the first literary text ever submitted to a publisher in typewritten form. Today we recognize that typewriting changed the history and material culture of authorship. But when did writers begin using word processors? Who were the early adopters? Was the computer just a better typewriter—faster, easier—or was it something more? And what will be the fate of today’s “manuscripts,” which take the form of electronic files in folders on hard drives, instead of papers in hard copy?
This talk, drawn from my forthcoming book, will provide some answers, and also address questions related to the challenges of conducting research at the intersection of literary and technological history--including a week-long stint at the Microsoft Archives in Bellevue, Washington.