February 3, 2013

Typewriters making a return

It’s an Apple/HP world out there, and yet ... among a small but growing number of key players, names like Olivetti and Underwood are PC once again. Word.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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The view at LFK, a tapas bar where typewriters are respected and loved, at State and Pine streets in Portland.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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The well-worn keys of a Royal typewriter in the LFK collection.

Additional Photos Below

Tom Furrier of Cambridge Typewriter Co. in Cambridge, Mass., has witnessed this trend first-hand. About a decade ago, a couple of teenagers came into his shop to gawk at manual typewriters. A week later, a few more came in. And then more and more and more.

It has since snowballed to the point that he can barely keep up with the crush of people wanting to have their old typewriters fixed and made serviceable.

"The majority are high-school and college kids. They're looking to offset the digital side of their life," said Furrier. "They like the idea of having something analog, something mechanical.

"School kids have never played with anything like this before. They're used to keyboards, gaming consoles and laptops. The typewriter is pretty cool to them. You press a key, and this permanent impression appears on the paper in front of you. They love the feel and the sound and the looks. They're totally captivated by it." 


LFK, a tapas bar at 188A State St., Portland, serves as a haunt for the typist clan. Owner John Welliver designed LFK with words in mind.

The bar itself is shaped to resemble a typewriter, and is embedded with keys manufactured to look like typewriter keys. (It's important to note that these are not actual typewriter keys. In the typewriter world, it's considered bad form to remove keys from the typewriter, and Welliver had no desire to disrespect the typewriter community when he built the bar.)

If you look closely, you will see that the keys spell out the words to Emily Dickinson's poem "After a Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes."

The bar includes many typewriters, which patrons are encouraged to use. Books are also scattered about, most from Welliver's private collection.

Welliver, who works as an editor for a literary journal, says the typewriter revival fits nicely into a larger societal trend that finds people returning to simpler, less complicated things, if only for tactile pleasures.

There's resonance in the sound of the keys smacking up against a piece of paper that is lacking on a modern keyboard, Welliver says.

"When you work in the literary world, there is some sort of longing for history, to feel like you are part of a guild that has lasted centuries, since typewriters and the printing press and things of that nature were invented," he said. "It makes you feel like your job is worth it."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:


Twitter: pphbkeyes


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Additional Photos

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Hermes 3000

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Hermes Ambassador

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Wide-carriage Royal

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Royal portable

Gordon Chibroski

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The LFK bar, which is shaped to resemble a typewriter and is embedded with keys specially made to look like old typewriter keys (and which spell out the words of an Emily Dickinson poem).


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