Typewriters may be relegated to the shelves of thrift stores and antique shops, but not everyone has forgotten these outmoded mechanical beasts. In a New York Times opinion piece, award-winning actor and director Tom Hanks explains the passion that fuels his collection of hundreds of typewriters. Using a typewriter isn't just about putting text on a page, says Hanks, it's a complete experience that can't be replaced by smaller, sleeker and faster machines. Keystrokes require muscle, the loud typing sounds are viscerally satisfying, and each machine's unique fingerprint makes correspondence noteworthy to tomorrow's historians.
Every typewriter has its own music
Every typewriter has its own music, from loud twacks to deeper and more resonating thwumps. Typing is akin to playing an instrument, with fingers playing the songs with varying cadence and pressure. Some computer keyboards seek to replicate this tactile experience using a variety of different switches, but even a Cherry MX Blue doesn't capture the same melody. "Work may be getting done," says Hanks. "But it sounds cozy and small, like knitting needles creating a pair of socks."
Modern keyboards may make typing more convenient, but they don't stir the same emotions as using an old fashioned typewriter. Hanks admits that he uses a computer when he has to do "real work," but uses a typewriter for writing anything else. It's not just about getting thoughts on paper, it's about the unique visceral experience of typing on a typewriter.