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A Recently Lost Machine


The exact day I became a poet was April 1, 1965, the day I bought my first typewriter.  — August Wilson

 

A Story About My First Typewriter

    Typewriters have become a symbol for the past. The metal slapping on the paper with an ink ribbon between the keys, the sound has become iconic and no longer ordinary. The activity seems tiring and inefficient, and is mostly what people today would think. I too once thought this way, but boredom brought me upon the new, hidden world of typewriters. I became first interested in typewriters after watching a Youtube video (like how most of us find things these days). As a writer, I wanted to learn about writing methods and outlining. One recommendation that came across my screen was about writers in the early 20th century, eventually explaining how writers could use a typewriter all day long. This baffled me, especially considering how one's eyes strain just an hour at the computer. I then realized, this makes complete sense. If you used a typewriter, there would be no screen to make you tired. It is the light that tires us, not necessarily the activity. I found that interesting and decided to do some further research.

    Wikipedia was my first rabbit hole, followed by YouTube videos and forums. A couple days later, coincidentally, my mother recommended the film California Typewriter. This is a great film to get a glimpse at the current state of typewriters, and certain celebrities who still use them to this day like Tom Hanks and John Mayer. My mother had no idea I was looking into them, and the timing was ironic. After spending too much time reading about them and their history, I decided to get one for myself.

   The first typewriter that caught my eye was the one that Frank Underwood used in the TV show "House of Cards", and thankfully, I was able to find one. It was a 1941 Underwood Universal, which are still relatively easy to obtain. The condition was functional and I couldn't find a dent. After writing on it for hours, I fell in love with the machine. Going back on Etsy daily I wanted to get another one, and I finally got a 1954 Olympia SM3 from Western Germany.  This is the my (personal) favorite machine, and there are many things I can thank these typewriters for. Not only do typewriters have a pleasing aesthetic, but they are great for creative writing and even as a relaxing hobby. It allows for just pure writing and the machine does what you tell it to do, unlike MS Word telling you what to do. So why should you use one? Or what can you use it for if writing isn't your hobby?

Ways to Use a Typewriter?

Writing: It might sound cumbersome, but my best writing has come from a typewriter. There are no red lines when you mistype that will distract you, and you don't need special glasses to protect yourself from blue light.

Thank You Letters: If you aren't writing a novel, it doesn't mean you can't write a thank you card or a letter to your parents...

Journaling: If you don't enjoy handwriting, then a typewriter might be a more enjoyable mode of journaling. The clicking of the keys is relaxing and acts as white noise so your mind isn't distracted!

Decoration: Many will scream at this recommendation. Typewriters were built to be used, but also if you maintain it and appreciate it, then why not have it sit by the fireplace?

Ways to Get a Typewriter?

Online: I found Etsy was a great place to find trustworthy sellers and good prices for typewriters, and was where I bought my first two typewriters.

Ebay is more risky, but still a good place to find typewriters.

In-Store: If you are fortunate, a local store with typewriters is the best option. You can use it and make a better calculation before you spend the money.

 

If you can't decide on a typewriter, consider what you will use it for. The costs vary greatly from $70 to thousands depending on the condition and demand. Different typewriters also appear throughout the year, so don't be too quick to buy one because the ideal one could appear on Etsy next month. I am still waiting to find a good Smith-Corona Skyriter, which has been harder than I expected, but I know that I have to wait patiently. If you need a recommendation, feel free to email me, or message the sellers online. The typewriting community is friendly and willing to help!