Manual typewriter is key to group of old-schoolers
A local business owner and enthusiast of everything analog has put out a call for typewriter enthusiasts to bring their working Underwoods and Olivettis to a city pub Saturday for what has been dubbed “Type-In: A Pleasant Afternoon of Manual Typewriting.”
“Against a backdrop of ringtones and whiny hard drives, the analog typewriter, which puts thoughts onto paper in a single step and waits silently while you’re thinking, gains charm by the minute,” said Type-In organizer Michael McGettigan.
“When someone hears you clicking away, they know you aren’t playing ‘Call of Duty,’ or watching a kitten fall off a pillow on YouTube or checking your schedule,” he said. “You are typewriting.”
The Type-In took place at Bridgewater’s Pub in Philadelphia’s historic 30th Street Station. One person who RSVP’d, planned to travel from Virginia with his trusty manual in tow.
Participants at the type-in were to receive typing paper, carbon paper — remember that? — and envelopes to compose a holiday letter to mail after the event. All were encouraged to bring along a spare typewriter or two to swap or sell.
Also planned was a typing competition using a passage from author Paul Auster’s ode to his vintage Olympia, “The Story of My Typewriter,” and a technician will be on hand to discuss the basics of typewriter maintenance.
What makes manual typewriters so special to aficionados?
First, McGettigan said, typewriters are gloriously incapable of multitasking. They do one thing and one thing only: They type.
Second, they weren’t made with planned obsolescence in mind — unlike the frustratingly brief shelf life of the average laptop. With a little routine maintenance, typewriters will continue to happily clack for decades and even outlive their owners.
“The closest comparison I can make is with playing vinyl records; it’s a little more fussy, there are imperfections, and most of the time, most people, including me, play MP3s,” he said. “Or maybe it’s like acoustic guitar versus electric — harder, but takes more thought, stronger hands, and is very satisfying.”
McGettigan, who owns two bicycle shops, said typewriters and bikes both attract people with an appreciation for things that are well-crafted and human-powered. Biking events and bike shops bring together a community of like-minded cyclists, so McGettigan said he created the Type-In because typewriter fans have no similar means to meet up.
“The best part about a typewriter is when you’re done and you pull that typed page out, it feels like you’ve really accomplished something,” said 16-year-old Matt Cidoni of East Brunswick, N.J., a musician, high school junior, and owner of several typewriters, including a 1926 Royal 10 and a 1959 Smith-Corona Skyriter.
His “Adventures in Typewriterdom,” is what’s known as a typecast blog: Each entry is first typed on paper, then scanned into place.
“I’m not by any means a technophobe. The Internet is a wonderful thing — it’s where I found out so much great information about typewriters,” said Cidoni, who planned to make the 60-mile trip south for the Type-In. “But there’s a whole generation who are still into writing the good way. There are thousands of typewriters still in use and there always will be people who want to preserve them.”
Adventures in Typewriterdom: http://typewritersite.blogspot.com
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