Math, Stories

Biography of one typewriter (that puts biographies of our smartphones to shame)

It was a Remington typewriter, probably like the one in the photo below. It had a sturdy case. The owner used it heavily and took it everywhere he went. He was a frequent traveler

From http://mytypewriter.com/remingtonportableof1920s.aspx

At the end of the 1920’s the typewriter was lucky enough to go on a lengthy boat trip on the Volga river. The owner and two other men started their journey in Yaroslavl and sailed to Kazan’ city, where one of them got off the boat. The owner of the typewriter and his new friend continued sailing toward Samara city. Sometimes they used a primitive home-made sail. But most of the time the typewriter’s owner was the main rower, and his friend was the navigator.  At that time they did not yet know that they will remain best friends for the rest of their lives. They were enjoying the weather, the nature, and conversations about math.  The typewriter was sitting in the boat next to a box of biscuits.  The history omits the circumstances under which both aforementioned items ended up in the Volga river. We also do not know anything about the fact of the biscuits (there are good reasons to expect that they have stopped existing in their biscuit-like form at that moment. The fauna of the river probably had a feast though). The typewriter, however, was rescued successfully.  As soon as it dried up it resumed working just as it has worked before.

The typewriter continued following its owner around the world. It has witnessed all of his mathematical discoveries, professional crises, conversations with his students and colleagues. This typewriter was meant to live a dangerous life, just like its owner.  On October 15th, 1945 it followed its owner along the streets of Moscow that was immersing itself into the dusk of a gloomy and sad evening. The tanks were rolling along the Gorky street toward the centre of Moscow.  It was a miracle that the typewriter along with its owner did not get hit by one of the tanks while crossing the street. Suddenly, the typewriter was violently shaken inside its case. The owner heard a sharp metallic sound. The typewriter’s case hit the light pole. A scratch remained on it forever, but the typewriter was still working as though nothing has ever happened. This fact, however, was discovered only after its owner’s arrival to Kazan – the place where he needed to be evacuated along with his life long friend.

After 1945 the typewriter did not experience serious injuries and has never even been to a repair shop! Now, all of us would love to be THAT healthy!

During the late 1970‘s, this typewriter still belonged to its original owner – Professor of mathematics Pavel Alexandrov. His life long friend was Professor of mathematics Andrei Kolmogorov.

P. S.: compare this biography with a biography of any smartphone… it usually ends with a tragic drowning in a kitchen sink, a coffee mug or a toilet; or with a fatal fall from a pocket onto the pavement. “What a tragic and ungraceful way to go” – Alexandrov’s typewriter would think

information was taken from Pavel Alexandrov’s memoirs. You can read them in original language (in Russian) here http://www.rulit.net/books/stranicy-avtobiografii-read-227532-1.html

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