Because Poe wrote on both.
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s article This Faithful Machine in The Paris Review is about his attempts to track when famous writers first started using word processors. They’re an invention many writers were–and still are–grateful for. They make typing easier, although some writers have lamented the ease with which a word, a paragraph, a sentence, or an entire text can simply be highlighted and erased, lost forever. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Some writers destroy their old drafts. Somewhere in the depths of my memory I remember hearing that Eudora Welty would write pages and pages of descriptive passages around her short stories that she’d then cut out and burn. According to the story she told this to a literary scholar who was horrified, but if it worked for her it was a good system. Dylan Thomas on the would keep an old draft and write a poem all out over again every time he made a change, meaning he left dozens of copies of some of his later works.
My first computer had a monochrome amber monitor and I’d sit up late some nights and write and write and write on it. As it aged something went awry with the disk drive so I could only save a screen at a time–by printing it. The dot matrix printer left a lot to be desired too. One year in high school I was supposed to write a term paper and type it. I asked the teacher if the dot matrix printing was good enough.
“Mr. Waldrop,” she said condescendingly, “you need to stop wasting time with computers. The rest of the world uses typewriters and always will.”
When I went off to college my parents got me a Smith Corona Word Processor. It had an eight-line screen and small diskettes that could save 32,000 bytes, which I think averaged out to about ten pages. It had a built-in typewriter that would then type whatever I’d written. I named it Edgar and it made me a fair amount of money from people who also got me to “edit” their papers.
What stands out to me is how many writers who were early adopters of word processors had Wangs. I hope there’s a lot more gender parity in the publishing world now than there was then, but that also reminds me of a funny story from back in the day. A friend of mine who was really into computers told a girl there was a computer called a Wang.
She asked, “And what kind of games do you play with your Wang?”
Before he thought about what he was saying he blurted out, “Oh, I don’t have one!”
Poor guy. We could have made fun of him but decided to just let it drop.