My Second Typewriter

By David Michael Newstead.

“But why do you have a first typewriter?” A friend asked me.

Fair question. The first typewriter was my grandfather’s. I always thought it looked kind of cool. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. But the second typewriter? That I just bought online. Inspired by the documentary California Typewriter, I started searching for a restored typewriter and eventually I found something to my liking. My idea was I could figure out how to fix the broken typewriter by comparing it to a functional one. In theory, at least.

There are a few differences, of course. Like for example, they aren’t the same model and don’t have the same manufacturer. My first typewriter is a Cole Steel Portable made by a West German company that went out of business in the mid-1960s. My second typewriter, on the other hand, is a Brother Deluxe 650 from the 1970s.

I guess I was intrigued by its retro look and bright colors. When I first saw it, the thing just stuck out to me. I bought it from a guy in Spain who (for some reason) started repairing typewriters as a hobby five years ago. Eventually, he began to sell them on Etsy and people (for some reason) enthusiastically buy them. Me, for one. It took a while to ship, but I was excited when the box finally arrived. I don’t know how to explain it exactly. It looks and feels so cool, so tactile. Maybe because it’s an unusual purchase or from a long time ago. And added bonus, because it’s from Spain, my second typewriter also has a bilingual keyboard!

Interestingly, I would go on to discover from walking around in an office supply store that Brother Industries, the Japanese company that built my new machine, is still in business – having long ago shifted its focus to making printers. Then, it dawned on me: Japan, Spain, West Germany… It seemed like every one of these machines had a story behind it like it was on some journey that kept an otherwise antiquated object from oblivion. Maybe in the end, I’m just part of this typewriter’s latest chapter, the host at its most recent destination.

Either way, I was eager to unpack my new typewriter. I looked it over for a while. I got the device setup and made some space on my desk. Now, the only thing left to do is to write something.

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