Twilight of the typewriter…

Typewriters didn’t  wipe out pencil and notebook. MP3s have yet to wipe out the vinyl record. Will the utter convenience of computers wipe out typewriting?

And would this be a loss? Thus far, I’ve observed that typing on a manual typewriter results in a different kind of writing. Is it different enough to matter?

There’s probably no way to prove this phenom, without tracking identical twin novelists through life.

In the meantime, the plan for this guy is to type  a bit, in and out of home, regularly, and see what happens. Secondary to that plan is trying to avoid ending up with a typewriter collection; this means making opinionated decisions about  what machines feel “right” to type on.

There’s no official help desk for manual typewriters… though there are various self-help and expertise groups–ironically online, for the most part. It’s still probably better to have a 40-year old typewriter than a 6-year-old computer!

As various artsy-craftsy solutions occur, will post them in TYPECRAFTING.

Biggest current news–SON of Type-IN–2nd annual jam session for manual typewriters, coming on Saturday, Dec. 10. Details here.


5 responses to “Twilight of the typewriter…

  1. Joseph Tether

    I’m writing on behalf of a 75+ year old friend, John Gregg, who owns numerous manual typewriters but has no computer. He would like to write to Mr. McGettigan (on a typewriter, of course) and seek some information. Would you be kind enough to provide a physical address for Mr. McGettigan and/or a phone #?

    Thank you

  2. Bruce Dunning

    Just thought you might like this story, told to me by an executive of the Newseum (the Gannett-sponsored museum of news in Washington DC): A group of grade school kids is being given a tour of the Newseum. They are shown an upright office typewriter (Royal? Underwood?) and told that this is a typewriter and reporters used to write their stories on machines like this. “Cool,” says one kid, “but where’s the delete key?”

  3. Brendan O

    Twilight? If anything, typewriters are enjoying a bit of a renaissance nowadays thanks to the younger generations (myselfncluded) who are coming to value the objects and technologies that our parents and grandparents used every day (and sometimes grudgingly admit they wished they’d never gotten rid of).

    Maybe the charms of the computer age have worn thin, maybe we just like to have something real that we can touch and interact with than some spooky-action download or intangible collection of 1’s and 0’s, maybe we should’ve been born in another time, but whatever the reason, a lot of teens and 20 to 30 somethings happen to be going out and buying things like vinyl records, older-style clothes, and of course typewriters.

    Me? I freely admit that I get along just fine with modern technology (not so much with modern culture and modern society, but that’s another story), but even so I’ve a fan of all things vintage since I was very young, and at one point I remember getting to have a go on an old electric typewriter when I was about 7 (I believe the cord was all frayed and my parents were worried I’d electrocute myself, so this didn’t last long and to this day I can’t find it anywhere around the attic or the closets). Anyway, to make a long story short, my yen for wanting to get a typewriter was rekindled when I got into pen-palling, usually write everything by hand with a dip pen but I like to type too, especially when there’s a backlog of letters on my desk.

    Well, after a lot of searching on my own, I ended up being given a 50’s era Smith Corona “Silent” manual portable as a bit of an early X-Mas present from my dad, he told me he found it on Craigslist for $50 from a gentleman who’d had it for years, who later told me when I got to meet him that he was glad it was going to somebody who was going to use it instead of lop the keys off or pawn it off as a collectible. It’s in excellent shape, still has its original case, and all it needed was a light cleaning, some oil, and a new ribbon to be put back into service. Needless to say dad’s my holiday hero this year, and I’m a very happy chap.

    Might not be much of a looker, but my Silent really works well, and although it’s my first real foray into the typewriter world since that day long ago when I was little, I get the feeling it’s going to be a long and happy relationship, ought to last a lifetime if I take good care of it (unlike the laptop I’m currently writing on).

    Brendan O.

  4. Scott


    I’m an old man who has been using writing machines for over 60 years as an author, a teller of short stories, and correspondence that matters. While I own and use a Nexus 7, iPad, and HP desktop I rely heavily on my Olympic portable typewriter. Why? The cost of ink cartridges and the fact that the printer/copier/scanner has become so difficult for this old man to configure the effort is hardly worth it, especially when the old typewriter is so will to do the task. Besides, the click of the machine is a sound of progress.

    Thanks for manning this WordPress site. Mine in: (Scott’s Place).


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