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A Typewriter Company’s Keys to Survival

24 August 2013

Thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Video, Writing Tools

24 Comments to “A Typewriter Company’s Keys to Survival”

  1. “You don’t turn your typewriter on and go to the internet to check your Facebook.”

    I gotta get me one of these typewriters.


    Or maybe just dust off the three I have stored in the basement.

  2. I suddenly have a burning desire to write a story on a typewriter, just to be able to say that I’ve done it.

  3. If you love typing, a typewriter is a great piece of equipment.

  4. I know whole groups of NaNoWriMo folks totally committed to typewriters. They drag them to write-ins and everything, because Hey! No wifi connection needed!

  5. I used to write all my short stories and novels on typewriters. It is a definitely a different, very focused process. Hmm, I feel like trying it again!

    • Well, I would just love having to re-type the page every time I had to make an edit. NOT!

      • About two years ago, I bought an expensive typewriter on Amazon — one that saves text files on a CD. I used it exactly once before getting over my urge to recapture that feeling of composing on a typewriter. I gave it to a friend who’ll take anything.

        • For me, my typewriter is my Zombie Apocalpyse writing tool, because writing by hand is too slow. I have a couple of manual typewriters still lying around, one of them portable.

          I wrote my first two novels on a typewriter.


  6. Cute, like the yesteryear, for a nano second I wanted to get my old typewriter out of the garage, dust off some vinyls, or eight tracks and… I don’t have a turntable, or an eight track player. I’ll stick with my Mac.

  7. Oh yeah, I forgot carbon paper. And when cut & paste meant scissors and glue, actually cutting manuscripts into sections to rearrange and glue them to another blank sheet of paper. And then re-typing the hybrid.

    I guess I’ll leave my typewriters in the basement.

    It was fun remembering the clack of the keys, though.


  8. Wimps, all uh yuh!

    (an ex IBM Selectric repairman)

    Back to my computer keyboard. (Grin)

  9. I prefer my alphasmart neo… all the advantages of a typewriter (i.e. no internet, games, single use) plus portability (lighter than a netbook and 700 hour battery life) plus the fact it saves everything as text files so you can put it into your computer and edit to your hearts content.

    It does look like a toy, though.

    • I had a neo I used for quite a while and I really liked it. I composed a significant amount of my first novel on it. Then I realized with a portable Bluetooth keyboard, my smartphone was easier on my hands. The neo’s keyboard was just a wee bit too cramped for me, increasing my typos and got uncomfortable for more than a scene.

      • That sounds like a good idea for portability, Josh, but not one I could use when I need a no distraction environment. Basically, a phone these days is almost a portable distraction unit for me.

      • I tried using it for fiction, but this. And the screen’s too small. I do still use it to take meeting minutes. Godsend for that.

    • I got myself a neo, too, and I love it. The no distraction thing is priceless because I’m very distractable. I have small hands so the keyboard doesn’t bother me at all. It’s easy to carry and I can take it anywhere. I used to use spiral notebooks for this purpose (writing in odd locations), but the neo is a lot easier on my hands.

  10. I kept waiting for the part where he mentioned the card slot or the USB port – it can’t be THAT hard to add an optional storage device.

    I started by typing my PhD thesis on one of the first MagCard II typewriters in our office – to move paragraphs around you had to split the page onto magnetic cards, shuffle them manually, and put them back in.

    I LOVE the feel of the IBM Selectric keyboard – have me one with that feel from Unicomp. I learned touch typing when I was 15, back in the dark ages, and I need the feedback. I can live with the Macbook keyboard if I have to, but only for travel.

    The typewriter is too linear for my current thinking/writing process – which also includes a scissors-and-tape stage, lots of highlighting, and many drafts – I don’t think I could do it on a typewriter. But for just a moment there I was wistful – and wished I hadn’t given away our last electric typewriter. Just a moment, though – the Internet CAN be turned off.

    • The IBM Selectric – my very first love. I learned to type pre-word processor. You had to think before you wrote a sentence, which was really okay.

      But to type as fast as I could think…It was WONDERFUL.

      How do you find a keyboard that works like a Selectric? I’d love to have one. I have a very, very old split keyboard that I love.

      • Unicomp (which ABE mentioned, but gave no details) builds computer keyboards to the same specifications as the original IBM PC keyboard, but using modern interfaces and key layouts. That keyboard in turn used the same buckling-spring switches as the IBM Selectric. It was specifically designed to reproduce the ‘clicky’ feel and sound of the Selectric keyboard, and did a magnificent job. I don’t have a Unicomp keyboard myself, but from what I hear, their products are still faithful to the original design. You can find them here:


  11. I learned to type in high school, many decades ago. There isn’t a single thing I liked about them, except not having to read my own handwriting, and not a single regret at leaving them behind. As far as I’m concerned, wordprocessing is another name for freedom. Nostalgia for typewriters is much like nostalgia for print books, but without any of the remaining advantages that print sometimes offers. If I still had to use a typewriter, I doubt that I would have ever become a writer.

    • Kathlena Contreras

      I agree, Catana. I hated typewriters so much, I hand-wrote my manuscripts then entered them onto my Commodore 64 to be printed out on my dot-matrix printer. Typewriters? Nevah!

  12. There’s always a market for specialty technology!

  13. My 9 yo son just said, “Hey. That’s cool.”

    Because he’s never seen one.

    I need to go dig out a record player and my 33.3′s.

    TK Kenyon

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