Monday, December 31, 2018

WRDSMTH's typewriter installation in L.A.

"Where You Found Joy," an installation by street artist WRDSMTH, recently brought a set of uplifting, typewriter-themed messages to The Bloc in downtown L.A. These pieces share some appropriate thoughts as we embark on a new year.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

A thank-you from a typewriter-loving kid

We all know that kids love typewriters, and many of them surely asked Santa for one.

With permission from her grandpa, who shared it with me, I'm reproducing a letter from a certain eight-year-old whose wish was fulfilled.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Kids typing letters to Santa

Continuing the theme from my previous post, here's a delightful report from a Georgia typist, reproduced with his permission:

Good evening Richard,

I became a member of the insurgency a few months ago after reading your book and seeing the obligatory “California Typewriter” film. A couple of weeks ago I took the initiative to call a friend who owns a local Mexican restaurant that has a kids' night every Monday and asked her if she would like me to bring a few typewriters for kids to write letters to Santa. She said yes and my wife Michele and I took six nice manual typewriters and a copy of “Click Clack Moo” to the restaurant for them to use this past Monday. To our surprise, there were 32 kids from 4 to 10 years old who used a typewriter for the first time to send Santa a letter that night.

At the end of the night, we also had a drawing among the kids and gave away a nice 1960 Smith Corona Galaxie that I picked up for $20, cleaned it up following your tips and installed a new ribbon.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Jason Upshaw
Tifton Ga.

Thanks to you for spreading the typewriter joy!

Friday, December 14, 2018

What kids love

A couple of years ago, I set up an Olympia SG3 in Xavier's faculty lounge.

People started using it for random bits of poetry, comments, and such. But recently, it's seen little use.

I suggested to a librarian that it might go well in the little makerspace that is located on the ground floor of our library. I checked in recently and saw that, in fact, some people had typed long sheets of stories and nonsense on the machine. And my librarian friend sent me a photo that reinforces a widely recognized truth:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A shiny label for Urban Legend Typewriters

After seeing so many wonderful old dealer labels and decals recently ...

... I decided I really wanted something like this for my own little business, Urban Legend Typewriters. But decals are hard to apply, and I soon found out that aluminum plaques require an initial investment of $300 or so for about 100 plaques. I chose a more affordable alternative: 604 thin "brushed alloy" 1x2-inch labels for $125 from Stickers That Stick.

I think they look great!

Why no contact information? Because we may be moving next year. And of course, these days all you need is the name of a business; you can find out how to contact them online.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Manifiesto Mexicano

Here's the new manifesto from Armando Warner of Californication Typewriter in Mexico. (English translation follows.)


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Open house at Urban Legend Typewriters

We had an open house today at Urban Legend Typewriters.

Our shop is beautiful and enticing ... but would anyone come by?

The "new" typewriters I brought in today include this bright red Correcting Selectric II. I don't repair them, but this one is in excellent working condition (Brian Brumfield had previously worked his magic on it.)

I also brought in this Tower Citation with fantastic circa-1960 styling ...

This '63 Royal Safari ...

... and this Remington Letter-Riter DeLuxe from the late '50s. We don't currently have serial number records for this model. It uses manually-set tab stops (unlike the similar Quiet-Riter, which has a tab set and clear lever to the left of the keyboard). To get access to the tab stops and margin stops, you push down the paper table (marked "Tabulator") and it pops up; then you push it down again to shut it.

And I can't forget this new addition to the shop, a 1954 Imperial 66 with removable keyboard and carriage. Common in the UK, very rare in the US.

To amuse ourselves while waiting for customers, we gave ourselves writing prompts.

Here was my response to the prompt "secret Santa," typed on the Imperial:

Someone came through the door! — but only to drop off this poster for a neighborhood event.

And finally ... yes! We had customers come in to browse, to chat, to buy (the Citation, the Safari, a flat-top Corona, and an unrestored Quiet De Luxe just donated by Dave Brechbiel all found new owners), to pick up serviced typewriters, and to drop off 7 more for work.

It's great to meet fellow typewriter lovers. As a rule, they are creative, thoughtful, full of stories, and friendly.

I leave you with a poem that one of our customers has composed and attached to the case of his sparkling Remington no. 3 portable.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A car driven by a typewriter

Self-driving cars? Nonsense. The car of the future will be controlled by typewriting!

(For the real story behind this image, visit Robert Messenger's blog, and take note of the country where he lives.)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The typewriter revolution in Sweden

Many thanks to Charles in Gothenburg, Sweden, for sharing his family's enthusiasm for typewriters and for the COLD HARD TYPE project.

Friday, November 9, 2018

COLD HARD TYPE update, with deadlines

Typewriter Tales from Post-Digital Worlds
A Collaborative Project

Initial deadline for submissions: February 1, 2019
Deadline for revised work: April 2, 2019
Provisional publication date: June 1, 2019

E-mail all submissions to Richard Polt
at, or mail by post to:

Richard Polt
Dept. of Philosophy
Xavier University
3800 Victory Pky.
Cincinnati, OH 45207-4443

            This book will be an anthology of futuristic typewriter fiction—a subgenre that has been explored occasionally in the typosphere. (Examples:,, Stories, poems, illustrations and photos are welcome.

            Imagine that digital civilization collapses, and that some people adopt typewriters as their tools of choice. What will their adventures be? These are the tales of their struggles, defeats, and triumphs as they try to bring back typewriters from the grave of “obsolete” technology and restore them to their rightful place in the sun. All contributions to COLD HARD TYPE will be set in the future, when digital civilization is collapsing or has collapsed, and will involve typewriters as an essential part of their content. The final versions of the texts will also actually be typed on typewriters.

            The basic premise allows for many possibilities: there are different scenarios for the partial or complete breakdown of digital technology and culture, various reasons for the collapse in different parts of the world, different stages of the process, and many possible results. The theme could be called “dystopian,” but maybe the new Age of Typewriters would be a utopia. It could be called “post-apocalyptic,” but the end of digital civilization does not have to come in a single, apocalyptic event. Stories can be set early in the process or centuries later. They may be funny, dark, violent, light, ironic, or profound. They can be suitable for an adult audience, but should not be out-and-out pornographic or sadistic. They can range from short-shorts (1 page) to a maximum of 5000 words.

            Submissions should be sent to Richard Polt by e-mail or post (see above). They will be reviewed by Polt (author of The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century,, novelist Fred Durbin (, and Broward College English professor Andrew McFeaters (

            First drafts of fiction and poetry may be either digital or typewritten, but the final version must be typewritten.

            Submissions of artwork and photos may include color cover images and grayscale interior images. Illustrations should fit appropriately within the dimensions of the book’s pages, 6x9 inches. Resolution of digital images should be 300 dpi or better.

Initial deadline for submissions: February 1, 2019. Submit a draft of your work by this date, at the latest. The editorial panel will consider it and may suggest corrections or revisions. In some cases, we may decide that the work does not fit this volume. However, we hope for wide participation and want this to be a fun, inclusive, and diverse project. If we suggest revisions to your first draft and do not immediately accept it for the book, send us a revision by March 15.

Deadline for final work: April 2, 2019. This is the date by which we must receive final contributions, including correctly formatted typescripts.

Provisional publication date: June 1, 2019. Around this time, the book will be available for purchase as a print-on-demand volume. It will not be available in digital form. The price will be as affordable as possible; no one involved in the project expects to make any profit from it. The book will contain no digital text, only images of typewriting.

A few questions and suggestions

Fred Durbin has come up with the following questions and tips that may be useful. Take them as suggestions, not directives. Not all of the questions need to be answered in your stories and poems, but they may help you imagine the setting and events for your work.

1. What happened to the digital world? Why can human beings no longer use computers and the Internet?
2. How widespread and/or uniform is this digital collapse? How far along is it? Has the problem just occurred, or does it lie fifty years in the background of your story?
3. How does the lack of digital technology affect society? How does it impact the world and the nation on a large scale, and how does it affect the individual family or person?
4. What is the scope of the story you want to tell? A story can focus on major events over many years, or it can be the story of one or two people in a single day or a few hours.
5. Does the society you’re writing about resemble any real era of a place in history? Remember that you’re writing about the future, but is your setting like the East Coast of the 1970s? Like the 1930s in London? Like the Stone Age? Why? Think carefully of where & when your story is set and explore the possibilities. 
6. Why are typewriters a useful tool in the context of your story? Why would people return to them?
7. How do the typewriters keep running? Remember that they need maintenance and ribbons. They need paper or something very similar to type on. And how is their output used? Think carefully here. How does information pass from place to place in your story?
8. Remember that effective stories are always about people—people facing challenges, people with feelings and thoughts—people going through experiences. Who is your story about? What does that character want?

Some recommendations:

1. Be careful not to write too much in the abstract. In your story, remember to do more than simply describe the world and how it has changed. Remember the characters!
2. Remember that stories should have some kind of arc—a beginning, middle, and end.
3. Don’t just show us how great typewriters are—we know that! Instead, tell us a story involving typewriters.

Formatting instructions for final texts

This formatting is not necessary for drafts. Authors may propose different formatting if there is justification for it and if the text remains easily readable. I can e-mail you a Word document formatted according to these guidelines; it may be useful for planning.

The printed book will be 6x9 inches, and there will be 0.75-inch margins on the pages, so all typing must fit within a 4.5 x 7.5 inch rectangle (11.4 x 19.1 cm). On most typewriters, this is 45 lines of typing, 45 characters per line in pica type or 54 characters in elite type. You may want to draw a rectangle of these dimensions on a backing sheet that can be seen through your typing sheet (not on your typing sheet itself).

If you wish, you may add or subtract one line in order to avoid widows and orphans (first or last lines of paragraphs that are left on a page by themselves). Going one or two characters over the line width is also OK if you need to for some reason.

You may use any common size of paper; what matters is the dimensions of the typing, not the dimensions of the paper.

Do not use a typeface smaller than elite (12 characters per inch) or larger than pica (10 cpi). Sizes in between the two are OK. Elite is preferred, so that we can save some space.

Use an easily legible typeface (no script typefaces, please) and a fresh ribbon.

On the first page, type the title of your text, centered, leaving two blank lines above it. After another blank line, type your name, centered and without the word “by”; after two more blank lines, start the text.

Every paragraph should be indented by 3 spaces. Do not put blank lines between paragraphs. (These paragraph rules apply to stories. Poems may require their own formatting, which the author can choose.)

At the end of your text, after two blank lines, type the make and model of the typewriter that you used (and year if you wish), starting at the left margin, without indenting.

Please be very careful with grammar, spelling, and typing. This book will use American spelling and punctuation. (Use “double quotation marks,” and put commas and periods inside them.) The editorial team will not be able to correct most typographical errors. Some mistakes will undoubtedly get into the book and add a little character; perfection isn’t necessary. However, text should be as neat and correct as you can reasonably make it. Cover up typos; do not just type xxxx over mistakes (we recommend using correction tape or plastic film correction tabs, but any method of hiding your mistake will work).

Page numbers and (possibly) headers and footers will be added in the final production process. Do not add them yourself. You may number your pages if you want to, for your convenience and ours, as long as the numbers are well outside the 6x9 rectangle of the printed page.

On a separate page, type a brief biographical statement (maximum 3 lines), beginning with your first and last name in ALL CAPITALS. The bios will be collected at the end of the book. You may use a pseudonym or remain anonymous if you like.
Typescripts may be sent by postal mail to the following address. Avoid folding the pages (preferably, put them in a large envelope with some cardboard and mark DO NOT BEND). This is the preferred way to submit your work. It would be wise to keep a copy.

      Richard Polt
      Dept. of Philosophy
      Xavier University
      3800 Victory Pky.
      Cincinnati, OH 45207-4443

Alternatively, you can scan your typescript and e-mail it to Scans must follow these guidelines:

      • Grayscale
      • Resolution 300dpi
      • PDF or JPEG
      • Scan your biographical statement separately from your contribution

Photos will not have the same quality as scans, but they may work if there is no better alternative. Light the piece evenly, keep the camera steady and parallel to the page, and do not get too close or too far from the page.

For technical questions about scanning, e-mail Linda M. Au, who will be laying out the book, at

            Is poetry allowed? — Yes, but it must fit the theme of the book, and we expect that most contributions will be stories.
            May authors collaborate? — Yes.
            Can I submit more than one piece? — Yes. However, be advised that we may not have space to publish more than one.
            May I use a pseudonym or remain anonymous? — Yes.
            What about foreign-language or bilingual material? — The language for the collection is English, so submissions must be in good English, and any bits in other languages must also come with a translation, so that readers who do not know those languages can understand.
            Can work have been published previously? — Yes, but we do prefer contributions that are new or not well known. Any previously published material must follow any copyright conditions attached to the previous publication.
            Can I republish my work later? — Yes. You will retain copyright on your work, and after the book is published, you may publish your work in other formats, noting that it first appeared in Cold Hard Type.
            Will I be paid? — No. No one will make any money from this project. We will profit in the form of joy, fun, and the satisfaction of contributing to the typewriter insurgency.
            Will I at least get a free copy of the book? — No, but we will ensure that it is as affordable as possible.

            If I have sent you this document, you are on my list of interested people and will receive all updates.
Richard Polt
January 15, 2019

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Bonanza in Carmichael

The day after the extravaganza in Auburn, I stopped in Carmichael, next to Sacramento, to visit a large office machine store. It has been closed for about a decade, and the family is now trying to clear it out. They are looking for takers for machines, tools, equipment, and more ...

In the photo above, the top shelf is all empty cases, including some nice Olympia cases. There are lots of electrics, especially Selectrics, but also manual standards and portables. A Torpedo 18 in a case is on one of these shelves.

Here are some of their older machines.

There are also checkwriters and adding machines.

There's lots of miscellanea, such as shelving and this box of plastic office machine covers:

The lights aren't working in the repair shop, but using a flashlight I spotted this useful tool. There is lots of other repair equipment and parts, as well.

A couple of neat dealer labels:

Are you interested? Write to Denise Martinez.