“T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland not only featured a typist as one of its figures, Eliot’s actual typing of the poem on three different typewriters proved the key by which Lawrence Rainey unlocked the history of the text and accurately reconstructed the  different episodes’ order of composition.

Would such a coup have been possible if Eliot wrote the poem on a succession of Mac Powerbooks? Scholars interested in questions such as these for literary manuscripts that now exist only as document folders on hard drives or data in the “cloud” will one day have to come to terms with the particulars of different operating systems, software versions, and hardware protocols, as well as the characteristics of a variety of different hard-copy output technologies, from dot matrix and daisy wheel to inkjet and laser printer.”

From: Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing (by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Harvard University Press, 2016

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