Filmmakers Dust Off the Hidden World of Typewriters

Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter reeked of brandy and cigarettes. The top cover was missing. Family members told the collector who obtained the typewriter that Hemingway likely tore it off in frustration.

“They said they would not be surprised the reason that cover was missing was because while he was trying to replace a ribbon, he got mad at the machine, ripped off the cover, and threw it,” said documentary filmmaker Gary Nicholson, citing Hemingway’s family members.

Some have polished wood and glass keys,others are lined with silver and gold. Each typewriter is unique, with its own fingerprint, and each grows in character with every keystroke beneath the hands of the writer who wields it.

Although they used to sit on the desk of every writer, typewriters have slowly faded into the liquid crystal glow of the computer age. In May 2010, Nicholson and filmmaker Christopher Lockett came across an article on Wired.com about the last generation of typewriter repairmen.

The two decided to set out and find out whether the typewriter is really dead. This became the premise of their upcoming documentary film, “The Typewriter (In the 21st Century).”

The answer to their question came quickly. “The typewriter is still around. It’s going to stay around for a very long time,” Nicholson said.

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(Photo by welder via Wikimedia Commons)