About this blog

This blog is about the daily activities in a busy typewriter shop. I want to share with you the many interesting people who come in here, the beautiful machines I get and most of all the great typewriter stories that people share with me!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Typing Class at Harvard

     A pretty neat thing happened earlier this week. I got a call from a teacher at Harvard University saying she had a group of students who wanted to learn to type and would I be willing to rent out twelve portable manual typewriters for the week. I said I gladly would and was excited that a group of college kids wanted to learn typing on old typewriters. She said she was excited about this development in her creative writing class but the students were over the moon excited and couldn't wait to start. We arranged to deliver and set up the machines Wednesday morning in the classroom and everyone there would help carry in the machines. She mentioned that she would like a good mix of different kinds of machines in different typestyles if possible. So I delivered a bunch of Olympia SM 3's, 4's and 9's, several black Corona's, a Olivetti Studio 44 and Lettera 35, Olympia SF and Royal Touch Control Model. A good mix of machines and in pica, elite, italic and script. The typing class would run for three days and I would pick up the machines on Monday. I said that she should have some funny stories for me when I pick up the machines Monday. On Friday we had a snow storm and my daughter had no school so I stayed home. But Saturday I called Jen to see how the typing class went. She said that it was incredible. Her students loved typing so much that they begged her to come in over the weekend so they could type some more. On Friday they had a party to celebrate the end of the seminar. Many students and faculty attended and the typewriters were a big hit. Everyone wanted to type on them. Now all the students want to get their own typewriters so we'll see if any of them buy some of the machines from the class. I genuinely get excited about younger people taking up the typewriter. It makes me feel hopeful about the future. That not everything is about the newest, fastest, latest and greatest technology. Let's hope that younger people continue to see the value in vintage technology, albeit the typewriter, sewing machines, fountain pens, antique watches, vinyl records or whatever inspires you.

     Now a quick word about the weather. YUCK!  Three and a half feet of snow in the last two weeks and more on the way. I think Mother Nature is confusing Boston with Buffalo. I really do like the snow but too much at once is terrible for business. People put off their chores and errands, like spending money at the typewriter store.

a nicely decorated Royal case
      This past week has been slow in the money making department but a lot of people have been in the shop. I can't remember a week when more people have come in and given me typewriters to recycle. At least a dozen machines were gifted to me, including a Russian keyboard Underwood 21 (really a Olivetti Studio 44), another Studio 44, a Royal 0 Model, Royal Safari, a Royal KMM with a twenty-one inch carriage (yikes!), several Smith Corona electrics, several Royal portable electrics, a IBM Selectric 2 and IBM Wheelwriter 3.

a 1936 Royal 0 Model a.k.a. the touch control model

     Earlier in the week a young girl came in with a Erika typewriter for repair. It was a more recent vintage, not as well made as the older ones. All the original packing material was still on the machine but it was still pretty beat up. After checking out the machine, she saw the Russian Royal Standard  typewriter from last weeks post. I just finished reconditioning it and the customer hadn't picked it up yet. She remarked that she would love a Russian keyboard machine for her friends. I said that this one was sold and I very rarely see them. So two days later, someone walks into the shop and gives me a Russian Underwood 21 saying if I can use it great. It never ceases to amaze me how these things work out. You always get what you need.
     Thanks for checking it out. Everyone have a great week.


  1. Last night I was in my bedroom, browsing Tumblr on my laptop, when I heard an unidentifiable noise coming from my daughter's room, a weird banging sound. My other daughter comes in and asked if I heard that, went into her sister's room and there she was, sitting at an old typewriter, banging away! She loves it!

    I'm with you, it's so cool the younger generation is appreciating the machines we learned to type on in high school. I can still remember the deafening noise of those 1 to 5-minute typing tests, having to shake my hands a bit and rub them on my jeans a few times during the longer ones. Who knows, with all the cost-cutting measures our schools are taking, those good ol' days could be coming back!

  2. great story! I'm hoping it builds at least to the point of sustaining the manufacture of supplies.

  3. You always seem to have good news. This is great. It encourages me to bring a repainted Smith-Corona to the creative writing teacher at my daughter's school -- something I've been meaning to do for months.

  4. What a great post! Love the typing class -- but not the snow.

  5. This is a great post. I can't believe a professor from Harvard wanted some machines and that the students loved them. That's great.


  6. Warms an old man's heart, it does.

  7. Thanks for commenting everyone. I found out today that the students were able to get into the classroom over the weekend to type for a few more hours and all the kids showed up.

    Richard, you should bring that SCM into your daughters school. It would be a big hit for sure. I get a handful of teachers every year that come in a pick up a sturdy manual standard for their classroom. Sometimes I hear back about how well it worked out.