Some types love old manuals
December 20, 1997
Web posted at: 9:34 p.m. EST (0234 GMT)
SAN FRANCISCO, California -- Dust off your old Royal.
A new breed of collectors wants to bring your typewriter back from near extinction.
"Computers have intelligence, but typewriters have a soul," says 31-year-old San Francisco poet Zoe Francesca. "They have personalities."
Like thousands of other manmade relics, typewriters are tumbling into cultural oblivion as new technology replaces old. With their handy "delete" and arrow keys -- not to mention spell-checking features -- personal computers are less hassle. But for some, they're less fun.
"On a computer, you have clikety, clakety, clikety, clakety. It's very quiet," says typewriter collector Darryl Rehn, who edits a journal on antique computers. "And on a typewriter, you have whakety, whakety, whakety, whakety. You put your gut on the page, and that feels really good."
Ironically, many collectors turn to the computer in their search for the most elusive typewriters. There are World Wide Web sites and at least one electronic mailing list devoted to typewriter collecting.
Typewriter repairman Herb Permillion of California Office Machines says as long as there are afficionados of writing machines, someone will be around to fix them. Manuals are still manufactured in Mexico, Southeast Asia and India.
"They want these things as a collectible, or as a part of their furnishings, in terms of something out of the past," Permillion says.
"I'm sure that typewriters are going to stay here forever, and we'll be here right along with them."
CNN reporter Susan Reed contributed to this story.