July 21, 2013

Younger generation rediscovering typewriters


They are less distracted than with their other modern devices and must actually think about what they want to write before typing it.

High schools and colleges are jumping back onto the bandwagon, arguing the advantages of the typewriter. Repair shops are cropping up across the nation and those that opened in the ‘20s and barely scraped by in the ‘90s are now thriving.

Sales on the Internet have burgeoned once again. I don’t see new ones being produced, but lots of old ones are coming out of mothballs to be refurbished and sold. Typewriters are basically simple machines and rather easy to maintain. Repair people have stocks of old ones strictly for parts. When a roller gets flattened over time, a like-new one can be snapped into place almost instantly. Jammed keys can be straightened or replaced. New ribbons are readily found.

Carbon-paper sales are bigger than ever, since many law offices say they have forms that can be filled out only on typewriters and it’s easy to make instant copies. 

Then, there’s one of my all-time favorite songs entitled simply, “The Typewriter,” finished by Leroy Anderson in October of 1950 and recorded for Decca Records in September of 1953. I have a copy here on an old 78 rpm disc. It’s short — just 1 minute and 45 seconds long. You can hear the original and many wannabees done by other groups on YouTube. Watching the guy with a typewriter pecking away on stage front and hearing the bell as it sounds the end of each row is great fun. Anderson’s original is far faster than the others, and I’m almost certain the man who “played the typewriter” didn’t actually make real words. 

So, if you also have an ancient typewriter like mine or even a more “modern” Selectric, drag it out and start pounding the keys. Perhaps we should alert the medical community about a whole new rash of carpal tunnel complaints.

Have a great day, go type a masterpiece and please, drive carefully.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at

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