In Manhunt: Unabomber, FBI agent Fitzgerald uses a typewriter while working at the FBI to create the profile of the Unabomber. The year is 1995.

They clearly had computers in 1995, especially at the FBI.

This seems very odd to me: was this a mistake in the scene? Or some sort of hidden message in the series?

(I do understand Ted writing in a typewriter, since he isolated himself from society around 1970...)

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    Just because computers exist does not mean every agent has one. They were expensive and this is a large organisation. – Paulie_D Aug 5 '20 at 15:13
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    Did any of the other agents use a computer? – DustinDavis Aug 5 '20 at 18:26
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    Anecdotal: In 1995 I was a High Performance Workstation (Sun Spark) technician in the US Army, Hawaii. As in I repaired them and installed them for users. I kept all of my teams reports (and there were many) as well as the Equipment Manager. I, to this day, remember spending hours typing up reports and hand receipts on my good old US Army (green) Selectric Typewriter. Everyone had a typewriter, few had computers, because the IBM PC had just came out and was too expensive and fragile for the Army. I would imagine the FBI was in the same boat. Agents might get on a terminal to do data entry .. – CGCampbell Aug 6 '20 at 1:49
  • to a mainframe, but no one had a personal computer in the government workforce. Or at least, most would not, especially not at field sites. Headquarters probably did, and the schoolhouses and training facilities, but not the smaller sites. (I am submitting this as a comment mostly due to I have no real data to back it up, just personal memories and training certificates on what I was trained on through the years.) – CGCampbell Aug 6 '20 at 1:49
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    You might try asking this question in Retrocomputing where the question you ask is how ubiquitous were desktop computers in the government workforce in 1995. Maybe they'll have the data on how widespread, or not, they were then. – CGCampbell Aug 6 '20 at 1:55

James R. Fitzgerald (born June 24, 1953) is an American criminal profiler, forensic linguist, and author. He is a retired FBI agent and best known for his role in the UNABOM investigation, which resulted in the arrest and conviction of Ted Kaczynski.[2][3]


So Fitzgerald most likely learned to type in the 50s or 60s, long before the advent of personal computers. It's common for people who grew up writing on typewriters to feel more comfortable on them. Remember that typing is done with "muscle memory"; people who get beyond hunt-and-peck aren't consciously deciding what to do with their hands. Rather, they are relying on automatic processes. Switching to a PC, or even to a different type of typewriter, can make typing feel "off". It's a bit like someone who grew up driving cars with standard transmissions preferring to not use automatics, or a baseball player who grew up using wooden bats not wanting to use an aluminum one. There's also force of habit, and that drawbacks that you're used to (e.g. not being able to save your work) tend to seem smaller than new ones (e.g. having to wait for the computer to boot up, needing electrical power, having to deal with a printer, etc.).

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    This really doesn't answer the question – Paulie_D Aug 6 '20 at 9:59
  • @Paulie_D How does it not answer the question? The question was "Was this or a mistake? Or a hidden message?" My answer is "It's neither. Someone using a typewriter is perfectly normal." – Acccumulation Aug 6 '20 at 20:14

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