Stroke Of Genius

Typewriter-appreciation sites keep writing the story of the writing machine.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

May 2, 2002

3 Min Read

Visiting a typewriter Web site can be like perusing an antique store. Browse or buy, there's no pressure. Along the way, if you're not careful, you might pick up an appreciation for the machines, which went through several iterations before being patented by three Milwaukeeans in 1867.

The facts you'll glean about typewriters at these sites are as fascinating as the array of designs. More than 300 makes and models were invented, patented, or manufactured in North America, and a bevy of designs were introduced, all in the hope of becoming the machine of choice. Some were simple, some ornate, but they all have a permanent place in our history--even though several don't even look like typewriters! is a stylish site for the appreciation and sale of old typewriters dating to the 1800s. Interesting background on many machines is augmented with crisp pictures filled with detail. Sections include typewriter history, related links, and, of course, some for sale. Sample this description of the Oliver No. 3: "Unusual to our modern eyes, the Oliver is a unique and robust machine that has U-shaped type bars striking down from the sides. Launched in 1894, the distinctive design remained basically the same through a succession of 15 models (including portables) over a 50-year period of production. Most of the Oliver desktop models can be easily identified by their model number. Introduced in 1898, the Oliver No. 3 was one of the early models, which had no enclosing frame to cover the inside mechanism."

You can spend plenty of time at this site, which is run by Charles Gu of Virginia. is a joyous trip into the past. Run by collector Anthony Casillo of New York, it includes such cool features as the photo gallery Typewriter Memory Lane, recommended collector books, and Typewriter Timeline, which you can use to help date an ancient machine. The section "Typewriters ... something old that's new to collect" is an interesting overview, and points out that, unlike lots of collectibles that simply sit on a shelf, typewriters actually can be used.

Chuck and Rich's Antique Typewriter Web Site and Museum has more than 500 machines on display, as well as a section devoted to toy typewriters. Chuck Dilts and Rich Cincotta of Massachusetts, like other collectors, clearly love the subject. "If you have an old typewriter," they write on their site, "and aren't sure what to do with it, let us know. Maybe it'll be something we'd like to add to our collection! For us, the more unusual the better!"

Heralding itself as perhaps the first virtual typewriter museum and library, Lady Typewriter is split into "virtual museum" and "virtual library," and offers plenty to investigate. It's run by Janet M. Ridings of Great Britain, who writes that her interest in antique typewriters was sparked, ironically, after buying a word processor about 15 years ago.

If you think you might want to start collecting, check out How to collect antique typewriters, or head to the Early Typewriter Collectors Association.

Finally, if you end up with an antique typewriter, you'll eventually need repair work or supplies. That's where Typewriter Repair Shopswill come in handy. It compiles stores around the globe who service these great old machines.

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