6 years, 9 months on Open Salon__________________________


New York, New York,
April 22

APRIL 9, 2012 3:43PM

My typewriter friends

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In the olden days before computers people used typewriters...


The other day I took a little time to photograph all of the typewriters I own and am now presenting each of their stories.






What started as my mother's typewriter when she was in school is the portable Smith-Corona shown above. Just as she had this machine at college, so did I and it still works as well as when I first used it in the 7th grade!







This Royal portable was in my grandparents' Manhattan apartment for many years and when they brought it to their house in the country I made some use of it. The dual colored ribbon was a special feature for typing colorful reports.






Also, from my grandparents' came this very heavy Royal office typewriter. I have typed recipes and reports in my younger days when I was at their house. The machine made me feel like I was a reporter typing my article for the daily newspaper.






This rugged IBM Executive electric typewriter was a machine I purchased at the first auction I ever attended that had business equipment to bid on. I recall I paid around $100 for it in light bidding. This was one of the early pieces of equipment I bought for my design business when I started up in '78. Back when IBM still had a retail location in Westchester County I stopped in to buy the manual for the machine and extra carbon ribbons.






The Brother electric typewriter. This is the third typewriter I bought that was manufactured by Brother. In the '80s the first two typewriters were connected to Macs and PCs with an interface that allowed the typewriters to be used as printers. Eventually, I switched over to laser printers for 100% of this function, but I was grateful that Brother made available the interface for those earlier years of computing.







In a return to earlier days of typewriting, I bought this IBM Selectric on Ebay for about $100, which is far less than I would have spent when Selectrics were new and all the rage. Some readers may remember the famous TV writer Stephen J. Cannell shown at the end of each of his TV show creations pulling a finished page of manuscript out of his Selectric and releasing it into midair where it floated away.

Both this IBM machine and the older Executive model are very heavy which makes them radically different from contemporary typewriters such as the Brother model which contains more plastic than steel.



These days if I am using one of these typewriters it mostly to type out a label or address an envelope. No book reports or term papers as in my younger days to type on these machines and I'd use a computer, anyway, for those purposes!




Photos and text are ©2012 by B+Co., Inc.



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I mourn the loss of the typewriter. I learned how to type on an IBM Selectric in high school. In college I worked for an office supply store for serveral years selling all the supplies that went along with them: ribbons, correction ribbons, lift-off tape, liquid paper, etc. Thanks for this post.
This is SO great. We still have two typewriters, including a manual Olympic or Olympia (can't remember) that is in perfect condition. I also have a box of black and red ribbons . I'm keeping them for God knows what. Just in case. I had one of those Royals in a box that belonged to my mom. We used to collect Underwoods but they just got too heavy to move everywhere. The typewriter will always be an icon for writers, I believe!
I learned on a manual, but I got good on that $100 IBM you bought that the army had so many of.
We had the Smith-Corona...it was strictly hands off...dads' machine.
Ah, the typewriter. I used an electric typewriter in both high school and college, I think it was a Smith Corona, but not sure. On my first secretarial job, I used the Memory Writer with a tiny screen in which you could store text, hit enter and voila, the thing would type on its own. Seemed so advanced back then.
I remember typing class!! I was damn good at typing which makes me wonder why I hunt and peck on the computer?
I think I had that Royal portable and that Brother electric. They both served me well through college and working, and in a way made writing simpler. I remember getting my first computer and never being able to finish anything because it was too easy to keep making changes.
Oh, what a trip down a street fewer and fewer will remember. The one thing I have to say about typewriters is that (until the advent of the correcting Selectric)...you really had to know how to type. Because Liquid Paper just didn't cut it. At all. No backspacing and deleting.

But a lot more noise.

Thanks for this lovely story.
That's quite a collection! I still have a Selectric at work, that I use for the odd label or form that can't be run through a printer. It's a great machine. I took class on a manual in high school, and I am soooo glad that I learned how to type.
Nice photos, and memories. Nothing beats a typewriter for quickly whipping out a label or address on an envelope. :)
I loved this recap. I got my first computer in 1989, and therefore had almost two decades of typewriters. I had one for many years that also featured the dual coloured tape (great for red underline emphasis).

My fingers are feeling lethargic at the mere thought of pounding down those keys on the vintage models.

I also love that the first Royal still has its manual inside the case.