History of TW before the PC and the Internet

Subject: History of TW before the PC and the Internet
From: "Curtis Brautigam" <curtisb -at- nurserysupplies -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L digest" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 08:27:23 -0500

I hope that this will be a very interesting discussion string. Are there any
TW's on this list who engaged in technical writing before the advent of the
PC and the Internet (I have the Typewriter-Mainframe era in mind)? It seems
that we as technical communicators in the 21st century have all of these
great tools (Word, FrameMaker, Illustrator, Corel Draw, the Pentium III, the
Mac, printers, scanners, the Internet, listervs, etc., etc.) at our disposal
and seem to take them for granted. It is also apparent that a lot of the
products that technical writers document today (especially the majority of
computer software) did not exist in the Typewriter-Mainframe era. What did
technical writers do in the Typewriter-Mainframe era? What additional skills
did the profession involve (except for the ability to write well)? When did
technical writing (or technical communication) evolve as a specialized
profession? This is, of course, not to mention what technical writers did
before the age of the typewriter and the mainframe computer (there probably
wasn't a distinct profession known as technical writing then).

Of course, technical writing has been with us since the beginning of writing
itself. There is technical writing in ancient documents. Even the Bible
contains a good amount of technical writing. I think it would be a fruitful
endeavor to begin to look at technical writing in a historical perspective.

Curtis R. Brautigam
Technical Writer
Nursery Supplies, Inc.
Chambersburg, PA.

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