The sound of a manual typewriter in use is one of its appeals for many aficionados. Up until the 1980s, when personal computers made their way into offices and homes, typewriters were the prevalent tool of formal communication for around a hundred years.

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Since typewriters have been around so long, they commonly pop up in films and become associated with cultural icons, such as Snoopy of Peanuts fame. Several celebrities are famous for their continued use of these machines (Woody Allen), and even their collections (Tom Hanks). Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam uses vintage typewriters to record lyrics. The sound of a typewriter has inspired musicians, composers, and tv productions. A few include Yann Tiersen, Dolly Parton (the beginning of '9 to 5'), and the title sequence to Murder, She Wrote.

Speaking of mysteries, did you know typewritten documents can be used as evidence in court? Forensic examiners can trace back to particular models, sometimes even to specific inks and ribbons. Each typewriter has its own equivalent of a fingerprint.

So why might you want to use a typewriter today, given the advances in technology? Some say the exposure of the manual typewriter's mechanisms are appealing. There's more of a direct connection. It's tactile. And private. Others love the clacking sound of the keys. The resulting hardcopy product is treasured more than an email or text message. It also encourages you to be on top of your spelling and grammar. And perhaps one of the most popular reasons we've heard is that it enables focus; there's no online distractions (incidentally, this is also why many people prefer handwriting to typing).

Kristen Ghodsee, an American ethnographer, wrote a wonderful blog post on about why she loves typewriters, and a few of her reasons included:

  • Typewriters never crash, never need software updates, do not become obsolete every four years, and require no backing up.
  • Typewriters have unlimited battery life, and never overheat.
  • You can work in full sunlight, and not have to worry about the glare on your screen.
  • Your eyes never hurt from staring too long at your typewriter.
  • When you write on a typewriter, your friends, family, and colleagues can all hear that you're working.
  • You can misspelll words and use bad grammar without your word processing program constantly judging you.
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French Dispatch
Whether you use typewriters or not, we wish you plenty of distraction-free time to focus on whatever delights you. At this time of year, perhaps it's some soothing music, a warm bath and candlelight? More on that next week...
November 09, 2021 — Antoinette D'Angelo

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