Meet the Last Generation of Typewriter Repairmen

If there's a profession that is almost certainly on its way out, it's that of the typewriter repairman. John Snyder of Wired, writing for Gizmodo, visited three San Francisco area typewriter repair shops to examine the end of a machine and a trade:

California Typewriter Company is the quintessential family business, employing proprietor Herb Permillion (above), his daughter Carmen, and his mother Nita. Although Carmen works in the business, her father believes that the craft of typewriter repair will not survive into the next generation.

"Once we go," he says, "we're taking it with us."[...]

California Typewriter Company works on both vintage and modern office equipment, but surprisingly, over the last 10 years, the sale and repair of manual typewriters has constituted an increasing share of their business. Most of the people buying the older machines are under 35, the company reports, and are mostly people looking for an interesting gift or a decorative conversation piece.

In addition, girls under 12 have become a significant market, following the example of the titular character of the recent movie Kit Kittredge: American Girl, who frequently uses a typewriter. California Typewriter Company also worked on machines for celebrity clients including Danielle Steele and Tom Hanks, and sold a replacement ribbon to Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong.

Link | Photo: NIH

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I don't remember inking typewriter ribbons. I did ink printer ribbons though. I remember dipping a fountain pen in the ink bottle and pulling the lever down to fill up the rubber bladder with ink. One brand of ink even had bottles with a small reservoir of ink near the lid so you wouldn't need to dip the pen way down into bottles that were nearly empty.

Remember when a bottle of ink and ribbons were really inexpensive? Now you almost have to mortgage the house to afford printer ink.

Then came Teletype printers but that's a story all by itself. GGG

(we all know why printers are so cheap)
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SparkS in Ye Olden Dayes we did that all the time- We used the same ink for fountain pens and then we dipped the ribbon in it only with one edge so the ink was absorbed. The other trick was to re-moisten the ribbon so it gaver off ink for some longer. And so you could re-use the ribbon far longer than normal.We didn't think of that very much, that was just normal practise. We also learned from very young to readjust some of the levers and springs in the mechanical typewriters if somehow the tension on the keys became to soft or to hard. And once in a while you had to clean it from dust and too much ink because you got these blotty letters.

...But that was way before "DOS" or "Windows" - Géé I'm getting óld...!

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I bought my first typewriter, a Royal Royalite 64 at California Typewriter. They were really friendly there, luckily for me its a quick bus ride from the UC Berkeley campus.
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