Monday, June 28, 2010

Yes, Virginia, There are still Typewriter Supplies

Apologies to Francis Church, but there are still a wide variety of typewriter supplies available.  Although the popularity of typewriters has been steadily declining there is still a wide variety of applications for, and fans of, those writing machines of yesteryear.  While you are able to buy yourself a brand new typewriter it is much more common to need supplies for your current typewriter.  Unlike the modern word processing computers, a typewriter has a much lower rate of failure, so you can still technically use the same typewriter your grandparents used.  Of course your grandparent's typewriter doesn't have the same set of features that a modern electric typewriter has, but you are still talking about a typewriter that could theoretically be 30 years old.  Do you know anybody using the same computer they had 30 years ago?



All typewriters, for better or worse are based on the same general technology.  You press a key and an engraved letter presses on a piece of paper.  A ribbon between the letter and the paper transfers ink in the shape of letters.  In the very early days of typewriters the only thing you needed to worry about was your ribbon, so it was easy to keep a large supply at hand and never have to worry about it.  If you ran out, you could go to just about any store and find a replacement.  Unfortunately, as typewriters have fallen out of fashion very few stores carry any typewriter ribbons.  Thanks to the internet you can easily find a wide variety of typewriter ribbons that are probably compatible with the typewriter at your office.


As typewriter technology advanced they figured out that they could fairly easily include the technology necessary to help people easily undo a mistyped letter or two.  By creating the backspace key the typewriter manufacturers introduced a product that immediately made the current typewriters outdated.  Along with the new typewriter a new kind of typewriter ribbon, ink and correction ribbons, was needed so you had to throw out your old typewriter ribbon with your old typewriter.  By combining the ink and the correction in one cassette the typewriter manufacturers made it easy for the end users to find the one product that their typewriter needs.


The last great advancement of typewriter technology before they became word processors was the creation of Typewriter Printwheels.  These handy dandy pieces of equipment allowed you to replace one piece of hardware on your typewriter and change the font it used.  The printwheel is such a sadly forgotten piece of technology that the word "printwheel" isn't recognized by spell check.

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