Often the critical insight to a problem come in the shower or while walking down the road? When addressing a difficult problem, it is important to takle periodic breaks - with a change of venue. Sometimes the best insights come when you're doing something else. The brain needs to alternate between gathering information and digesting it.
Stargzer asked: Was it old enough that it used a lower case "L" for the number 1 (one)?
I think "1 + !" was one of the keys that was replaced with accents. So you had to use "ell" for "1", and the rare exclamation point required single-quote + backspace + period. This encouraged you to avoid excessive exclamation points, which is generally a good idea anyway.
Stargzer said: ... the [FAX] image was burned onto a blank paper (probably heat-sensitive, but I vaguely remember an arc) on a similar rotating cylinder.
It may have been paper with a thin layer of aluminum that was burned off by the arc. I think some cash registers still use that technology.
Was it old enough that it used a lower case "L" for the number 1 (one)? That would throw modern keyboarders for a loop!
I worked the summer of 1969 (as a map proofreader!) at a place that published a weekly newsletter for the TV industry. They typed it on proportional space typewriters, the first, and last, I've ever seen, but at least when word processers came around I knew what porportional space was. You had to know how many times to press the backspace key for the different letters ("i" and "space" were two presses each, "M" and "W" were 5 or 7, I think). It also had two levers that would shift the type-bars horizontally a very small amount. To type boldface you typed your text, backspaced over it, shifted the type-bars to the left, overtyped the text, backspaced again, shifted the typebars to the right, overtyped once more, and finally shifted the type-keys back to the center position to continue typing. Presto! Bold face!
It was a very large typeface, but you typed in columns on special paper (very bright white with faint blue lines) and then it was pasted up and sent out to be photo-reduced at a print shop.
The also had an early FAX machine to get stories from the NYC office. They wrapped the original around a cylinder which was rotated and scanned line-by-line and send down a dial-up phone line where the image was burned onto a blank paper (probably heat-sensitive, but I vaguely remember an arc) on a similar rotating cylinder.
When the owner (a family friend) died a few years ago they had a large painting at his wake of him seated next to an old Royal manual typewriter and a Wang word processing terminal (they had only replaced the Wang system a few years before that). Many of us commented that the typewriter was probably the ony thing in the painting that still worked.
A lot of document editors let you insert accents by prefixing a character with ctl-accent. For example, to get 'ç' you enter ctl-comma followed by 'c'. Then you can copy/paste to the comment box. If I'm writing something with a lot of accents I usually write the whole piece in the document editor and copy the whole text at once. This also protects me from losing my comments if the server hangs.
Update: My dad has an old manual typewriter he used for many decades as an academic. It was customized by a typewriter shop for typing French and German. They replaced the hammers for little-used characters like 1/2 and 1/4 and substituted the acute and grave accents, umlaut, and circumflex. They also filed down the carriage advance stub on the key levers so that when you typed an accent the carriage didn't move and you could immediately type the vowel without backspacing. I think he still had to add tildes and cedillas by hand.
@betajet with the stern-looking icon: In the French version, the words si, six, scies, and scient are all pronounced "see".
I'll have to copy and remember that; it's better than "vers le verre vert" "(towards the glass green) or ver vert verre (towards green glass). The English-to-French translation program insists on changing the word order of "towards green glass" and inserting the article; alas, French grammar!