Re: History of TW before the PC and the Internet

Subject: Re: History of TW before the PC and the Internet
From: "Rose Morganti" <Rose -dot- Morganti -at- worldnet -dot- att -dot- net>
To: "Curtis Brautigam" <curtisb -at- nurserysupplies -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 14:05:34 -0800

I've read some of the responses that appear to be from people in the tech
area at the time. I worked for the end user and had to interpret the
information into desk Level how to manuals.

Since I started out back in the seventies and, no there were no defined
"technical writers" all over the place although there may have been some -
somewhere we did not know about.

Usually, you wrote out the information in longhand and someone else typed it
up. Then you edited.

To get screen shots, you typed them in, there was no copy / paste. You
actually drew the pictures, then cut (scissors) them to the size left open
on the hard copy, then taped them into the document. To get the copies to
print, you made a copy, then copied off the copy.

Most of the time the programmers wrote their own documentation if pressed.
Then, we, as supervisors / analysts, wrote the manuals from system level to
desk level.

I think Technical Writers came into more widespread use when the government
wanted everything documented, especially their systems. Think about 78 or
79. Most
of the processing was on Main Frames and formatted screens were not in until
the late seventies very eary eighties.

It was challenging but I have to say I enjoy doing it more today than yester


-----Original Message-----
From: Curtis Brautigam <curtisb -at- nurserysupplies -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Friday, February 11, 2000 5:40 AM
Subject: History of TW before the PC and the Internet

>I hope that this will be a very interesting discussion string. Are there
>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,
>Mac, printers, scanners, the Internet, listervs, etc., etc.) at our
>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
>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
>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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