Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
When I bought it in London 22 years ago, it was pretty hi-tech. Canon had just updated their Typestar range and the Canon Typestar 5 was as hi-tech as you could get. I was as excited as a child on Christmas morning as I walked into Debenham's in London to buy it.
If you were in line behind me, I do apologise for the delay. It was as if I was buying a Rolls-Royce. But hey, to a journalist, the Typestar was pretty much the Rolls-Royce of gadgets anyway.
Did I want gold, the salesperson asked. I recoiled. Nope. Too flashy. Not me. So not me. Did I want black? Yep, that would do me just fine. Classy and understated was what I was after. And d'you know what? After I'd paid for it, I probably spent an hour in the electronics area of Debenham's, working my way through every function on that beautiful typewriter.
In reality, it wasn't black. It was sort of a slate grey. But so classy. And it was so slick and easy to use. It had a battery pack, or you could run it off mains power. Weren't happy with either of those options? Well, pardner, you could run it on four batteries as well. I walked out of there with a grin that was broader than the Rio Grande.
Over the next two and a half years, I took it on more international assignments to cover cricket and tennis events than I can remember. It was with me on every flight I took. As soon as the seat belt sign went off, I would get it out and start work. Back then, it was a complete novelty and so it always drew curious glances and the inevitable question: ``What is that?’’
It was the ultimate accoutrement for sportswriters.
It was about the size of a laptop and not much heavier, so I was able to work silently and efficiently on the many domestic and international flights I took during my time as a sportswriter. My colleagues would be sitting there sifting laboriously through hand-written notes, while I watched my reports unfold on the beautiful white thermal paper that scrolled so smoothly and whisper-efficiently through its slender casing.
Back in the days when computers were a luxury rather than a necessity, the Typestar was a sleek beast. You would let your fingers glide over the quiet keyboard, read what you’d written on the display screen and – if you didn’t need to edit or correct it – hit the print button.
At a time when a Walkman was seriously cool, the Typestar was the ultimate in cred.
About a month after I bought it, India pulled off an upset Davis Cup win against Sweden, who had Mats Wilander, Wimbledon semi-finalist Anders Jarryd and a young Stefan Edberg in their ranks. On the flight home, I used the Typestar to write my report and a lengthy feature article. By the time I landed, it was all done. Clean print. Easy typeface. No corrections. No worries at all.
I’ve never thrown the Typestar out. It sits in my study, a few feet away from where I write this post.
Gun-metal grey. And it’s still so cool. Even for an antique.