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The Biblio Files

The Biblio Files
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
January 01
We (Steve and Helen) irresponsibly gave up our promising careers in aviation and bookselling over ten years ago. Now books seem to have taken over our lives. We frequent libraries, bookstores, and thrift shops in search of interesting books. We buy/swap/sell, but mainly, we read. We both wear glasses and have been mistaken for librarians.


Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 13, 2008 4:22PM

Typewriter Man is Dead

Rate: 16 Flag

The New York Times reports today that Martin K. Tytell, typewriter wizard, has died at age 94. For seventy years, until the year 2000, he rented, repaired, rebuilt, reconfigured and restored typewriters in a shop in Lower Manhattan.

I read about Tytell last year, in a collection of essays by Ian Frazier. The essay, Typewriter Man, first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1997, and is one of many great pieces in Frazier's book Gone to New York: Adventures in the City.

Frazier discovered Tytell's shop when he needed a manual typewriter repaired in 1994. Frazier is a diehard manual typist although even in 1994 it was becoming quite difficult to find parts and supplies for manual typewriters. At the time, Tytell was one of only a handful left in New York City.

Tytell didn't just repair typewriters. He contributed his expertise regularly in court cases, notably in Alger Hiss's appeal after Hiss was convicted of spying for the Soviets.

In 1997 Tytell renewed his lease on the repair shop. The shop went out of business before the ten-year lease expired, though. There wasn't enough business to stay open.

Ian Frazier, in a 2006 interview, said that he still writes on a typewriter.

typewriter repair 



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Another dying art -- like cursive.

My thumb to you! I love the aesthetic of vintage objects. This post made me wonder if there is some kind of typewriter museum. found this;

Beautiful machines..

(sorry, I would paste a proper HTML link, but for some reason it makes my Mac hang every time)
Thanks for the post - it's the stuff of time travel...
I saw that obit in the New York Times. What a story!
I like typewriters! Just before PCs took over the world, I used to repair all my friends' typewriters. Usually there was nothing wrong a bit of methylated spirits and a good clean wouldn't put right. I still have my old portable - sentimental value and you never know - the power might fail one day and then it would be very useful to have.
I learned to type on my grandpa's typewriter. He had several around the house and his favorite was an old one with the hammers that come up and whack the paper. The period key would whap the paper with such force that it would put a little hole in the page. I still get typewritten letters from grandpa. He bought a computer but still prefers his typewriter.
Interesting post.
artsfish, thanks for the link. They are fun to look at. I think I recognize some of my old typewriters.

I have mixed feelings about typewriters. I was such an awful typist and typewriters aren't as forgiving as computers are. I took typing classes in high school and in the Air Force, but was convinced that if I learned to type well, I'd end up stuck in a secretarial job. (It was the late 1970s.)
Thanks for the link. Interesting read. Interesting guy. :)
A great piece. I knew the typewriter man, but I had to give it up with double chocolate cake. And thanks for that link to STOPSMILING. That's my kind of rag. How about bein' friends?
I heard about his passing from a newsletter I get. The two most interesting things I read were that he designed a hieroglyphics typewriter (as well as many others) and when he designed the Burmese one, he accidentally put in one of the letters upside down and it became the standard in Burma (now Myanmar).

He was a fascinating man.