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Carter and America's new toy

Americans have a new reason for a certain fellow feeling with Jimmy Carter. He is no longer just the small-town boy next door who went far; he is the operator of an electronic word processor who unintentionally erased two days' work on his memoirs.

It's an experience shared in one way or another not only by users of word processors on the job but by the growing number of people who have home computers with word processing -- and word vanishing -- capability. If you are reading this now, it means one more escape from the electronic limbo waiting somewhere beyond the keyboard for those whose typing goes astray.

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For the fault, dear Brutus, is usually not in our keyboards but in ourselves. The system does "crash" at times; it signals frantically to do something before it's too late. But more often the operator has given the wrong command. And, as Mr. Carter found, the lost material can be salvaged.

We're not surprised to hear that Mr. Carter was a quick study on his machine, learning in one day what the company normally allots to two. But will the ease of the mechanics make the memoirs different from those written on the old yellow legal pads? Somehow we doubt that the m edium will ever be the message for a man from Plains.

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