Typewriters have survived the computer age and are thriving thrive among pockets of new customers.
Gramercy Typewriter Company in New York City has seen a resurgence in sales of manual typewriters, according to the owner Paul Schweitzer.
“It’s been happening for the last couple of years,” Schweitzer told Fox News in a phone interview.
“The younger people are rediscovering typewriters because there are too many distractions [with today’s technology]. You can concentrate more,” Schweitzer added.
Schweitzer, who is 80 years old, still works six days a week and personally delivered two IBM typewriters to customers on Friday morning. In fact, business is booming so much that Gramercy Typewriter just opened a new store in New York City, according to Schweitzer.
He cited Underwood, Royal, Remington, and IBM as popular brands of typewriters that were manufactured in the U.S.
Martin Quezada, who runs International Office Machines in Los Angeles, was told twenty years ago that typewriters were history but in 2019, he’s still in business, repairing typewriters. He has a special affinity for Underwood typewriters, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
At one time, the Underwood brand was so popular that by the end of the 1930s Underwood had sold 5 million typewriters. Underwood doesn’t make typewriters anymore – it was taken over by the Italian company Olivetti in 1959 – but as Quezada shows, the repair of classic Underwood typewriters is still a viable business.
Nostalgia for the original QWERTY keyboard
The magic of a classic manual typewriter lies in the long, unhurried keystrokes and the fact people have to think long and hard about what they’re going to type next because there’s no such thing as backspace or delete keys. That makes the typewriter attractive to a certain subset of writers.
More modern incarnations of the classic typewriter like the IBM Selectric also have a loyal following among some writers such as Humorist P.J. O’Rourke and the late Isaac Asimov.
The QWERTY keyboard layout – still used on the latest laptops – can be credited to the American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes, who was granted a patent in 1868.
Remington (the same company that made firearms) purchased the QWERTY design in 1873 and the company sold its first typewriter in 1874 with a layout almost identical to the QWERTY keyboard in use today.
Classic manual typewriters are still being sold on eBay today and generally range between $40 and $200 in price, depending on the brand and the condition.