The Washington Post has a wonderful obituary of one of the nation's longest working typewriter repairmen, a tweedy technician in New Haven who started at his father's bookstore in 1930 and soon focused on typewriter service.
As the Post notes: When a manual typewriter broke down, it wasn’t thrown in the trash. It was taken to someone like Whitlock, who used special tools and decades of experience to put it back in working order. Soon enough, he could roll a sheet of paper around the platen and tap out, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” using all 26 letters of the keyboard.
With a shop near the Yale campus, it's only natural that Whitlock, who was 96 when he died last week, played some role in the university's intellectual life. He counted among his customers William Manchester, Robert Penn Warren, A. Bartlett Giamatti, Archibald MacLeish and John Hersey. Word has it a Yale classics professor named Erich Segal bought a portable Royal from Mr. Whitlock and used it to write “Love Story.” (For better or worse.)
I remember working on my high school newspaper on an old hand-me-down Olivetti, margins set narrow to approximate the line count, and things didn't progress that much by the time I got to my college paper. Academic work was done on a Smith Corona electric. Computers would have to wait til I got out into the workplace.
I never really missed the old machines. But even as business dropped off, Whitlock drew the line at computers, which he never learned to use. As he said in 2007, “You work a typewriter, a computer works you.”