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Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Continued Defense

     There is something just so magical about typewriters: they were so indicative of their time. For instance the early Royals and their gold decals, made with real gold and glass sides show the decadence and prosperity of the 1920s, before the Depression. Then look at the war time and post war models and their utilitarian simplicity: function for the sake of quality, when metals were becoming too costly. Keep in mind that, during the war, whatever metal could be spare was in order to help fight the war in Europe, and Royal (like so many American typewriter companies of the day) turned many of their factories into weapons manufacturers.
     Now, let's look at the sixties and the seventies. Stylish and futuristic, there is also a seedy under current. All of the once great manufacturers begin, around the year 1970, to simply relabel Japanese machines as their own, stopping production of some of the hallmark brands, like the Quiet De Luxe, the real Remington Streamliner, and anything under the Underwood name.
     I know that this isn't really going anywhere, but what can I say? I am a sucker for sentimentality. There is real magic in these machines that you can't get in a Mac Book or a Dell or HP. A picture of Neil Gaiman sitting at his iPad just isn't the same as seeing Francis Ford Coppola sitting with his Olivetti Lettera 33, or Tennessee Williams at his Studio 44. Does anyone care that Ian McEwan uses an Apple computer? Does that seem nearly as cool as when you found out that Cormac McCarthy still uses a Lettera 32 that he bought before going to Europe? How about when John Irving said that he has six or so IBM Selectrics that he uses to write his novels, and they are all in need of repair.
     It is sublime, knowing that the function of the tool, and its form are just as important as what these people make with it. And that's all I have to say about that.

Wait! I've got one more...Sylvia Plath.

Okay. Now that's all I have to say about that. 

Update: a special thanks to Retro Tech Geneva for buying all those awesome machines, and posting them online; and to Mr. Typewriter, of whom I bought my first Olivetti from.