“Type-ins” at Brooklyn Flea photographed by Marcus Yam for The New York Times
A recent story that received top coverage (not the Royal Wedding) piqued my fascination with headlines similar to those of the Daily Mail’s “The end of the line: Last typewriter factory left in the world closes its doors”.
Expressions such as “Last … closes its doors”, hinted at a path of extinction. But National Public Radio’s “The Two-Way” Team didn’t accept this story’s finality. Surely there are other manual typewriter makers and repairers, other than the featured Godrej Group based in India. There are many in the United States, like California-based Los Altos Business Machines (which was highlighted here) whose website proudly exclaims: “OUR CUSTOMERS ARE NATIONWIDE!!”
Reporters enjoy steering their headlines toward dramatic effect, especially in a broad “end-of-the-line” way. To assume the death of the manual typewriter misses the truth: it is a resilient object. The industrial design and tactile mission statement of manual typewriters is akin to the social attraction to pencils, pens, books, offset printing, letterpress printing and more. With these tools, people feel what they make—a different quality than what is experienced with digital tools.
In a New York Times article, “Click, Clack, Ding! Sigh … The Digital Generation Rediscovers the Magic of Manual Typewriters”, Robert A. Caro, a Pulitzer-winning biographer, described his long-cherished usage of the manual typewriter:
“One reason I type is it simply makes me feel closer to my words. It’s like being a cabinetmaker. It’s like laying down the planks. This is the way it’s supposed to feel.”
The manual typewriter is another reminder to pick your tools and type—in more ways than one, to get your ideas real. Carry on.
Nate Burgos is a designer who is ever curious about design and designing at Design Feast.
Read related post “Metal and Memories: Timeliness of Typewriters”.