The lively exchanges reveal that we share traits that extend beyond a love of typewriters. High on the list of traits are the loves of writing, history and things mechanical and tactile.
I don’t recall any of us acknowledging these traits. We are too into the minutiae of typewriters. For instance, this weekend’s chat on the Portable Typewriter Forum has been about the differences between Olympia SM3s and SM4s, revered, rock-solid Teutonic (West Germany, actually) models from the ‘60s. The amorous discussion ranged from tab set mechanisms, to sleek fiberboard carrying cases (versus the box variety) to favorite color combinations. One reader expressed a particular fondness for the burgundy over cream version shown here on an SM3.
To give you a sense of the utter devotion, even rapture, these machines evoke, here’s a sample response to one member post that he had scored an SM4 for less than the price of a small latté:
Great find on the SM4. $2.50 WOW! I've always liked the colors of the SM3s and 4s. The best I've done was $6.50 for an Olympia SF. Got it yesterday. It's my official Fathers Day present…. I had to drive about 100 miles both ways to get it but considering it would have been destroyed by Goodwill had they shipped it, the drive was worth it. I'll report when I get a chance to play with it.
See what I mean?
As I’ve reported before, my own crazed involvement has recently extended to persuading local colleges and universities to display typewriters from my collection. The exhibited machines are identical to typewriters used by several famous authors. If they were the actual typewriters used by the likes of Hemingway, George Orwell, E.B. White and Agatha Christie, they would be worth thousands. As is, they are beautiful, quirky curiosities — or at least that’s my hope.
Last week I installed eight machines at Mount Hood Community College where they will be on display for two months in the library’s foyer.
So here’s my walk-off question: Will the computer models used by today’s writers ever be equally cherished?
I think not, for reasons I will explore on another occasion.