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Typewriters are making a comeback!

 
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I couldn't figure out where to put this; I thought there was a 'retrotech' forum somewhere on Permies but I don't see one...

From a web article from a Boston, MA TV station: Typewriters are making a comeback as they remind people of simpler times (pre-COVID, pre-always-connected-by-devices.)

‘Busiest We Have Been In 41 Years,’ Typewriters Make Comeback During Pandemic
 
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Hm. You are right, we don't seem to have a low or retro tech forum... hmmm...

I'm glad typewriters are coming back! I like them. Much better ergonomics than a laptop keyboard where your fingers are all squooshed together.

For years I have been casually on the lookout for a manual typewriter. The ones I have seen were being sold as "Antique!" or "Vintage!" and were out of my price range.  I'm looking more for the price range of a yard sale "I don't believe my mother had this thing in her closet for all these years! Get it out of here!" type range :D

:D
 
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I'm old enough that I learnt to type on a manual typewriter. The class was run by the school secretary. I only signed up because I had a crush on one of the girls taking the class. I leant to touch type and left school with a respectable 40 words per minute.  

I am exceedingly grateful that I went to a college that had Unix Sun Stations, Macs and 386 PC's running Word Perfect. The keys didn't jam and I no longer had to carry around bottles of foul smelling tippex. I could cut and paste and correct on the fly. I have really poor spelling skills and my writing is full of typos. I learnt how to mail merge and print envelopes, so in my final year I managed to write 273 application letters to every single Civil Engineering Consultancy in Britain and got a job in the middle of a really bad recession.

So I won't be rushing out to buy a typewriter . . . or a film camera or a record player. I love simplicity and digital . . . way, way, less stuff! I have to disagree with the article, typewriters didn't exist in an age that was simple. I had video cassettes, music cassettes, records, CD's, books, magazines, photo albums, folders of paper . . . the list goes on.  I now have my phone for photography and music and my iPad for writing, reading, watching and browsing. Both are pretty stripped down and I'm migrating to the default apps. Sorry for being so cynical . . . my inbox is rammed with emails trying to persuade me to buy stuff . . . it's that time of year and I'm going cold turkey.
 
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I think typewriters are cool. I love typing on them. We had one when I was little.

I really enjoy the sounds of the clickity clackity, zubang ching! Haha.

I discovered I'm okay with just writing in a notebook though. It's way more portable and it slows me down even more than a typewriter.
 
Paul Sofranko
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I have an old manual typewriter; it's got a Polish keyboard. My wife got it for free when a local convent closed down and was giving away stuff. It's got all the usual letters and keys, plus a few for the additional Polish characters. I've not used it, the ribbon is old and I don't know where to get replacements. (There are Reddit subreddits and a group on Groups.io that address this, but I don't care enough right now to research. The machine is a curiosity, for now.)
 
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Yes, typewriters are awesome.  Been using one for years: https://permies.com/t/79142/typewriter-fixing-restoring-typewriters

 
Paul Sofranko
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Hm. You are right, we don't seem to have a low or retro tech forum... hmmm...


This forum: Appropedia appears to be the closest. Of course, I didn't think of that or see it until after I started this thread.

 
r ranson
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Most of the low tech stuff is in gear https://permies.com/f/91/gear

If you think a new forum might be useful, maybe start a thread in the Tinkering forum.

The thing about new forums is we need the content first to put in the forum before we can make a new one.  About 50 threads (assuming it doesn't de-populate an existing forum).  Find or make that many threads and there is probably a staff member around who can help make the forum.  
 
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An old manual typewriter is my postal correspondence tool of choice -my penmanship often being illegible.  

Check your thrift stores now and then, I've got lucky and picked up a couple well-preserved machines for a song.  Vintage ribbons can be found online -Ebay has been where I've got them, or else wound ribbon on old spools.  Hard, shrunken platens can sometimes be padded out by loading an extra sheet or two of thick paper.  Beware of oiling old machines to free the actions.  It tends to gum them worse in the long run.  A thorough cleaning is best.  Sometimes naptha is carefully used.  
 
Paul Sofranko
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r ranson wrote:Most of the low tech stuff is in gear https://permies.com/f/91/gear

If you think a new forum might be useful, maybe start a thread in the Tinkering forum.

The thing about new forums is we need the content first to put in the forum before we can make a new one.  About 50 threads (assuming it doesn't de-populate an existing forum).  Find or make that many threads and there is probably a staff member around who can help make the forum.  



Thanks! I didn't think of that one. Regarding a new forum, I'm not proposing one; I'll leave it up to the powers that be to decide that. Gear and Appropedia are fine, I think, for now.
 
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I agree with Edward. Although I'm not that old, and my main experience with typewriters was as a TA in my school library, they were still using a typewriter to make labels for the book spines. The typewriter needs much more force to press the letters, and the ergonomics are not necessarily any better than a modern laptop. My mom, who was a typist (on typewriters) for a short stint when she was young, still slams each key with unnecessary force, because of that typewriter training.

Although I can see the use of a typewriter for typing on paper of unusual dimensions (like those book spine labels), I much prefer the simplicity, versatility, and portability of modern electronics.
 
Paul Sofranko
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My interest in typewriters is just that they are in sharp contrast to the complicated technology of these times and all that tech represents. A sort of retro-nostalgia.

That being said, I wouldn't go back to using a typewriter at all for writing. I mean: copy, cut and paste, highlight-drag-and-drop... you can't do anything like that on a typewriter. Liquid paper? White-out? Meh.

I have a dear friend on Facebook (who should be here, perhaps I'll get her on Permies someday) who half-jokingly suggests that manual typewriters would be useful after a total societal collapse. (How else will we be able to write our novels?) Methinks we'll be too busy fending off zombie-hordes...
 
Paul Sofranko
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I accidentally double-posted, rather than bother the staff to delete this post, I'll totally rewrite it. Let me see, oh, I'll say a thing or two about 'retro-nostalgia.'

1) It's a coping mechanism.
2) It's relatively harmless unless taken to an extreme. (Becoming a Luddite.)
 
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I could be wrong, but I seem to remember reading an article 10ish years ago that was about the last manual typewriter company finally giving up making/selling typewriters.

If I am remembering correctly, it was an Indian company that made typewriters for 3rd world countries and other extremely remote areas.  Apparently laptop computers had finally filled that niche.

Interesting idea though and I am curious to see if typewriters do indeed make a comeback.

On a slight tangent, I agree with Pearl that laptop keys are the worst.  My current laptop is great for most every process except typing for which it is awful.  I have a desktop computer that I built myself and I deliberately kept an old, chunky IBM keyboard that now is about 25 years old and I plan to keep it for at least another quarter century.

Eric
 
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Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party!

One good thing about writing with a manual typewriter instead of handwritten notes is that OCR (optical character recognition) does a good job of translating it to editable ASCII text. Unless you go crazy with the correction fluid.

My typewriter days are over, except for this little sweetie:

underwood1.png
Antique Underwood Portable Typewriter c.1920s?
Antique Underwood Portable Typewriter c.1920s?
 
Paul Sofranko
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My one regret is that I never got my 'dream machine,' the IBM Selectric. I know it's not manual, but still...
 
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