More specifically, typewriters!
I believe it was the summer of 2014 that I began to obsess over finding a typewriter; I couldn’t tell you why, except that I find great intrigue and fascination with moving mechanical works.
Then, around August or September of 2016, I ran across a local Craigslist posting of a “portable” that was in purportedly great shape, but in need of a ribbon, and for a price of only $75! In short order, I had myself a Royal Quiet Deluxe: a fully mechanical typist’s machine from the mid-1950s. It features moveable, quick-set margins, tabular features, the ever-endearing chime as you approach the end of the line, and with the exception of a sticky “5” key and the occasional unintended space between two letters, is in quite stellar condition! After some Amazon perusal, and then getting my hands dirty switching between spools, the beauty had a new ribbon, and I was enamored.
You might ask, what is the purpose of such a machine — what analog dinosaur could possibly find a feasible use for such a clunky excuse for technological advancement in today’s digitally-dominated era?
Well, if you ever happen to find yourself with a bit of extra time before or after engagements, sitting in the parking lot, or at a coffee shop, and you want to put your thoughts somewhere besides someone else’s ear(s), or your spying computer, then your options are typing or journaling; for those of us with chicken scratch for handwriting, typing is the far prettier option. It also works as an excellent medium for letter-writing: thank you notes, memos, and love letters are all far more exquisite and noteworthy when delivered typewritten. And it also serves as a fantastic conversation starter: I’ve not once sat down outside a coffee shop or at a public picnic table without at least one person stopping to comment or question.
(As an aside, I cheated on the next few pictures — they’re all from my archives, and not taken specifically for this review series; the photo of the keyboard above though, was.)
It’s also a priceless means of cathartic release; I’ve used the phrase before, but it never ceases to apply: typing on an unassisted, analog keyboard is such an inherently visceral, dynamic experience, forcing each key down so that the levers engage and accelerate the key’s hammer HARD into the inked ribbon and then subsequently onto the page in order to [semi] permanently mar and mark your thoughts for some future reader to go over.
There are no batteries to die, no hard drives to fail, and no electronics to short or fry; basically anything that breaks on a mechanical, manual typewriter is feasibly fixable by someone with a little know-how or machining skills.
If you’re in a “moody” mood while you type, you can smack extra hard, but it’s when you’re in a GOOD mood, that you reap the biggest returns…if you’re in good humor, you can think about Tarzan’s “Trashing the Camp” scene while you work… 😉
And I’m not just advocating you buy my exact model! In fact, my girlfriend has a much older Underwood that she inherited from a grandmother:
I genuinely believe that if you have the free time, and aspire to increase your intelligence, knowledge, concision, clarity, and legibility, I suggest not only reading, but sitting down at the computer or — more enjoyably! — trying to source a reasonably-good condition typewriter, and working on that.