Many years ago, at least 35, I read a story about an astronaut who bought a 'typewriter' for his daughter/niece. From what I remember, he was going to a space station and he bought an automatic typewriter for his daughter so that she could dictate letters to him. There was a module that would 'spell-check' and 'grammar-check' the letters. Over time the letters from the daughter got better and better. He thought the improvement was from improved technology, not realizing his daughter was maturing.

It was the first time I read about a word processor, many years before I ever saw one.

2 Answers 2


Some of the details don't jive (frex it's not a short story) but in part II of Asimov's Second Foundation Toban Darell has given his daughter Arcadia an automatic typewriter (called a "transcriber") as a birthday present. She is trying to use it to write an essay on Seldon's Plan.

  • It has been about 20 years since I last read the Foundation series. I'll have to go back and read it again. Thanks for the heads up!
    – rcjohnson
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 14:31
  • There's definitely an Asimov story that includes a dictophone type automatic typewriter - however the one I remember has no spell-check modules, etc. In fact at one point when the girl made a mistake she had to throw away the entire page because there was no facility for correcting mistakes.
    – Eborbob
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 13:23
  • I believe that I read part of the beginning of The Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert in which a secretary dictated a letter or something to her automatic typewriter which wrote it, but she had to put each sheet of paper in manually since it didn't have a sheet feeder. Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 20:23

There is a small bit in "To Bring In The Steel" (1978) by Donald Kingsbury, in which the protagonist (on an asteroidal mining base) gets messages from his daughter on Earth. There's some mention of the fancy spell-checking etc, since he just bought her the most expensive unit he could.

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