California Typewriter - Title

California Typewriter The Documentary

I was browsing the documentary section of Hulu the other day and a title caught my eye: California Typewriter. The word “typewriter” brought back memories of my mother using her typewriter for medical transcription at both a doctor’s office and home. I remember her using an IBM Selectric and then a daisy wheel. She was using a typewriter up until the early 2000s. This isn’t to say she wasn’t using a word processor or a word processing program on Windows 3.1 as well, but the typewriter was still used.

Back to the documentary.

California Typewriter is named after a business in Berkeley, CA. As you can imagine, the business struggles to keep their doors open these days. This documentary looks into the day to day activities of the employees as well as looking into the patrons of this business. Folks bring in typewriters for repair and maintenance, others come in to buy.
California Typewriter - Maintenance

The documentary also shows us some famous collectors like Tom Hanks as well as typewriter advocates singer John Mayer and actor Sam Shepard. They explain why they choose to still use these mechanical devices and steer clear of computers for their writing.

Most of the typewriters featured California Typewriter are non-electric. We even get to see some of the earliest typewriters from the 1800s. Some didn’t even have a qwerty keyboard.

[Via] Zero Media

As someone who collects vintage computers, I appreciate their love of these devices even though some of the people on camera put down computers (it hurt a little). However, computers had their say at the end of the film. Halfway through the documentary, I was regretting giving my ex-girlfriend not one, but two mechanical typewriters (she’s a writer). The commentary in this film has convinced me that I need to type letters, ideas, and basically anything that needs to be on paper with a typewriter.

I have a spot for it in my home office. I just need to visualize…
California Typewriter - Justin's desk

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Justin M. Salvato

Writer/Vlogger at Retroist
Seeker of 1980s nostalgia, rummager of vintage computers and player of retro video games.When not writing posts of The Retroist, I'm converting Retroist audio podcasts to Retroist video podcasts.My own videos can be found at www.YouTube.com/JustinSalvato.
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