Sometimes you just gotta do the “retro” thing. 🙂 Today I purchased an Underwood Touch-Master 5 manual typewriter. Yes, manual. Not electric. Not a word processor. With the ribbon and the little key hammer thingies that swing up and hit it. The kids think it’s the greatest thing ever. Even Ian was typing ttttrrrrrrv after supper tonight. Here’s a picture of it:

Underwood Touch-Master 5

Underwood Touch-Master 5

Why? NaNoWriMo is coming. I’ve always wanted to write on a real typewriter and this year I’m giving it a shot. I won’t be able to type quite as fast, and I shan’t be lying back on the bed with this monster on my lap, that’s for sure. But if the power goes out I’ll still be blazing out the words like nothing’s amiss! 🙂 The plan is to type the pages, then scan them into the computer with OCR and so have both a hard and soft copy. Judging from last year, that will be about 160 pages or so.

I got it at Type ‘N Write, a store Tammy found in the Yellow Pages under “typewriters” (is there really such a section anymore? Yes, just this store and one other that the phone is disconnected for.) It’s a cool store, with lots of electric typewriters, and they had eight manuals for sale on the floor, varying in price from $80 to $300. I liked a 1940 Remington, but at $150 it was a little pricey. The guy who works on the typewriters is a dying breed, but it’s nice to know he’s around, and I know where to get new ribbons when I need them!

The first typing was a bit sloppy and slow, but it improved. Then I ran into a problem, the carriage was resisting advancing after keystrokes, and the type was getting faint. I figured out that the ribbon was trying to wind from the empty spool to the full, but not how to fix the problem (it’s not like I’ve got a manual). I called the shop and they advised me that there should be a ribbon winding-direction lever to flip. In the end, Tammy found it, right above the backspace key. After that it was smooth sailing. Now I’ve gotta practice up a little so that I’m not hindered too much with my speed this November.

Oh, and Mom, if you do get that Royal back from across the street, I’ll still take it (only if they don’t want it any more).


And the typewriter acquisition syndrome (TAS) continues! Before I bought my Underwood, Tammy had called around to the thrift stores and located a manual typewriter at the Salvation Army store on the Old Island Highway. So I stopped by there, and looked at it. When I tried to type on it, many of the keys were sticky. Since I didn’t know much about typewriter repair and I wanted something solid that would take me all the way through November, I passed on it, even though it was only $7.

However, once I got my Underwood, I started to think about getting the one at the thrift store. I mean, what’s seven bucks? If I tried to fix it and wrecked it, what’s the harm? So this week when I was in Regina and Tammy was killing time during one of Miranda’s on-site school days, she picked it up. She even started cleaning it and the typebars were starting to work better. Now I’m home, and following the advice from here, the old Smith-Corona portable is actually typing very well indeed. Here’s a picture of it:

Smith-Corona Galaxie

Smith-Corona Galaxie

The amazing part is that this typewriter is 50 years old. According to the serial number, it was built in 1959.

3 thoughts on “Typewriter

  1. I suppose I would have called you next, Mom. 🙂 It’s the tiniest little lever and easy to miss.

    I’ve put about three pages of practice typing together now. A couple of short stories (gotta type something). I have to continue building up my hand strength slowly. I can imagine that I’d hurt myself if I’d just plunged into November "cold".

    I also can’t imagine what it would be like to be a typist back in the ’60’s. It is so easy to make mistakes, and they add up so that when you pull the page out at the end, it looks messy. It makes you appreciate the amazing quality that anybody can turn out these days with a computer and a laser printer. Especially if you use a dedicated typesetting program like LaTeX.

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