Necessary Things: A Typewriter

Why on earth would you need a typewriter? This is the age of the mobile device, voice-activated speakers; soon texts and emails will be writing themselves. Why on earth would you need a heavy piece of outdating technology


For that very reason. Typewriters are writing machines; much closer to your hand with a pen in it than to a computer. The typewriter is the medium through which you express yourself directly onto the page. It is a portable printing press. Each word is fashioned by hammering a key into the paper and imprinting some ink there, permanently.

Using a typewriter shows that you intended to say what you said, that you thought about it, that you created the letter with a measured intensity because you knew that if you made a mistake there was no backspacing, there was no deleting; the word was there permanently.

Typewriters show a boldness, an affection for times past. When someone receives something that you have typed, they will recognize it as something unique,  one-off. The keys would have made their marks in a unique manner, the spacing, the cross-outs, the type-overs, the notes that you may have written in the margins. Your letter is an unique thing; it has weight and meaning and it was mad only for them.

Each machine is different. You may find yourself buying more of them; different typefaces: cursive, Art Deco, robo-script, italic, pica, sans serif. Each one reflects a different mood, a different purpose. I have one from the 20s in an Art Deco script that looks like Scott Fitzgerald just invited you to a cocktail party. I have one from the sixties in a modernist script meant to look futuristic, Space Age. You can match the typeface to the person. Whatever you are feeling. You could easily buy more than one. I have 15.


I use a typewriter because I like them. I like the ratta-tap-tapping of the keys against the platen. I like the satisfying low-tech bell ring at the end of the line. I like the metallic sliding sounds of the carriage as it clicks back into place. Most of all, I like the delight that it gives my family and friends to receive correspondence from me.

Have you every used a typewriter? Would you every again?



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