The Gala Premiere for ‘California Typewriter’


On Wednesday I went and saw the new documentary California Typewriter. In short, the film was wonderful. It began on an interesting note – the Royal Road Test. To a casual observer, the Royal Road Test is a beige spiral-bound booklet that resembles some long forgotten technical manual. Inside is a criminal investigation. Scattered along a stretch of highway lie parts of a deceased Royal 10, indicating that the victim was thrown from a moving vehicle – likely that of the author. As with most self-investigations no guilty party was found. From there, a narrative was spun and an experience was had that comes the closest  to out-of-body that I’ve ever been.

The story goes from the then-struggling California Typewriter shop in Berkeley across collectors, poets, writers, and an artist. All have their own personal relationship with the typewriter and reasons for its continued appreciation and usefulness. At times contrasted against modern digital culture, the film really is thought provoking and at times touching.

The cast of characters is diverse to say the least. The most recognizable names are those of actor Tom Hanks, singer/songwriter John Mayer, author David McCullough, and playwright Sam Shepard. Artist Jeremy Mayer, the Boston Typewriter Orchestra, philosopher Richard Polt, collector Martin Howard, and the typosphere’s beloved Herman Price all make appearances as well – Jeremy and Martin’s being the most significant.

The film beautifully covers the emancipation that the typewriter brought to women, the future historian’s loss of margin notes and on-paper edits, and among others the loss of creative ‘flow’ at the hands of digital interruptions and easy self-editing. If anything the film makes it clear that the death of this analog process is a death to be mourned and has a history to be celebrated. It presents the advantages of working on paper, and of rebelling against the ‘digital regime’.

The parts that I find the most valuable are when the interviewees express what the machine means to them. It makes the idea of using typewriters in the 21st Century rational and relatable to a larger, ‘digitally hipnotized’ audience; the process becoming more presentable and less stereotypically ‘luddite’.

Leaving the theater, I heard the other moviegoers bemoaning the loss of family typewriters, reminiscing on using them and wishing that they had one. This makes me ecstatic. I have been trying to adequately voice some of those ideas for some time now, and the job this movie does is great. If anyone asks you why you collect or use typewriters, just tell them to watch California Typewriter. Seriously.

Made it into that one!

The gala after the showing was packed – one could barely walk. With the amount of wine passing around there were plenty of tipsy folk after a relatively short period of time that made the gala entertaining in other ways… Most of the drunk middle-aged women ended up around Martin, and one mistook me for Jeremy. Fun!

While the ‘entertainment’ at the gala was unforgettably loud and annoying, seeing people crowd around & wait in line to use one out of a circle of manual typewriters was flooring. It felt like the typewriter was once again having its day.

Doug Nichol – the director of California Typewriter – is one of us! At present he has between 80 and 85 typewriters to his name, and that alone makes me recommend the film. Other stars from the documentary were also present. Ken Alexander from California Typewriter, Richard Polt, Jeremy Mayer, and Martin Howard were weaving through the crowd and socializing. I got to talk to each of them, and they were all down-to-earth and very relatable.

I must confess, when I first saw Jeremy Mayer’s work a few years ago I was not enthused. After hearing what he has to say, and seeing the good that his work is doing for the typewriter community as a whole, I am impressed and thankful for his change of my opinon.

Since I forgot my phone (and by extension my light meter) in the car, I have no pictures of mine to post of the event at this time. I winged it (wung it?) with my Nikkormat on Kodak Tri-X based upon previous experience, but I am pretty sure they are underexposed. Pushed 400 to 800, f5.6 (sometimes 4), shutter speed 60, wide-angle Vivitar lens.

Photo credit: Richard Polt

The most ‘real’ part of the night was after the gala was over. It was a little nippy out as the valet from the Ritz was retrieving our car and we stood waiting for it on the sidewalk. We were with Richard Polt, lightly philosophizing and waxing nostalgic. When our car arrived, Dad unveiled the custom powder-coated Selectric that he was doing for Richard as headlights made the metallic finish sparkle.

From behind came a familiar shout and we were shortly joined by Martin Howard and Jeremy Mayer, both of whom had searched for the bar in the Ritz only to find it closed. I don’t know why they decided to go outside instead of retiring for the night when they had to roll by 8am whilst it was a quarter after midnight. That wasn’t a question I had at the time, but it has occurred to me since that that was fortunate.

The six of us talked under the lights of the Ritz-Carlton’s awning for a few minutes; it was one of those moments that you know will end shortly but wish would continue for hours.

The two hour ride home was spent in introspection and contemplation. I thought back to my first machine and walked through the list of events that led me to the ride back from the film festival. The death of a relative in 2003. My first typewriter in 2012. The trashed HH I tried to save the following year that unknowingly introduced me to Richard Polt through a phone call. The Cincinnati Spring Type-In in 2014. Herman’s meeting.

Until that moment, after spending the night under high-end lighting and sharing a uniquely human moment in the cold, I had never realized exactly how deep my connection with the typewriter was and how much it had changed my life. Everything about me is different now… partly by way of maturing, but mostly because of events brought to bear as a result of my first machine five years ago. Five years – how fast time has passed. But I digress.

California Typewriter is well worth the wait, and I highly recommend it. For further review of the night’s events check out Richard Polt’s post here: The Typewriter Revolution – “California Typewriter” Gala in Cleveland.

I’m Typemonkey for The Daily Clipper, and that’s the 6:00 news. Goodnight.

Update No.2


This is the second update in the interim between official series posts, intended as both an update on the progress of the series as well as a general update.

In series news, I am learning a lot, and I hope that you do too when I finally finish it. A major revision is needed to the title, though… instead of being “The Rise and Fall of the Video Game Industry, 1960-1983” it will have to be titled “The Rise and Fall of the Video Game Industry, 1947-1983”. I had no idea that the beginnings of the industry were as far back as 1947, but there you have it. I have also quite accidentally found a connection to Australia that while brief might be of interest to Mr. Robert Messenger of Oz Typewriter, and if you aren’t reading his blog you should be. He does a lot of well-researched and interesting posts surprisingly frequently for their level of detail, and it really is a very interesting read. The address is

In non-series news, I have a few things to say. Firstly, I’m now on Twitter as @T1peM0nkey! I originally did this to follow @NewsTypewriter, which is an apparently sentient 1949 Royal KMG from the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper that has an amazing sense of humor!

Secondly, my collection of phonograph records just grew in a not-so-insignificant way. Five new LPs and six new 78 box sets, apparently with at least three disks in each. The 78s are all classical music since I decided that I didn’t have enough classical.
I finally found a copy of Walter Lord’s book ‘A Night To Remember,’ a factual account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic from a passenger, Mr. Lord himself. This book was made into a film in the black and white silent movie era and was very popular. Which reminds me that I’m thinking about doing a series on the Titanic next April…. any thoughts?

I added ‘The Towering Inferno,‘ the classic 1974 Irwin Allen disaster movie, to my VHS tape collection, and I’m beginning to seriously consider LaserDisks (LD). The only thing really holding me back is the fact that I don’t have a LaserDisk player, but that hasn’t stopped me from dipping my toes in with two purchases: The Abyss (1989) and Twister (1996).

And here’s some irony for you…. I have been practicing for the Polt/Brumfield showdown in October, and in the course of that have found a good tool to find practice material. The internet! So I find myself sitting at my typewriter with my digital copy holder, working on retyping articles and the like. How anachronistic can you get?

I hope to return soon with ‘RISE OF THE REGIME, EP.1: The Rise and Fall of the Video Game Industry, 1947-1983’ sometime in this following week. The post will be a pretty long one for this blog, and will be as illustrated as I can make it – finding images and getting permission to use them is the one big worry that I have about this series. If I don’t personally have that particular computer or console and can take photos of it, I’ll either have to link to images or put them on the blog (which is choice). That requires permissions, and I am working on finishing the research so that I can find appropriate images and get to work on said permission requests. Until next time, typosphere!

-1+7, Touch-Typing LPs, Typing Challenges and A Green Royal P

-1+7, Touch-Typing LPs, Typing Challenges and A Green Royal P
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IBM Selectric typewriters
Pictured: Some of the Selectrics received.
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Touch Typing Made Simple - Instructional LP and Booklet
Touch Typing Made Simple
Smith-Corona 10-Day Touch Typing Course LPs and Booklet
Smith-Corona 10-Day Touch Typing Course
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But since this was written, I now know the answers to most of these questions. Just a heads up.
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National Novel Writing Month 2013 Participant
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Floppy disks
Speaking of floppy disks… Maybe I should set up a ‘floppy disk’ for my floppy disks. I think I have 91 of them at present, all for Commodore 64.
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Corroded IBM Correcting Selectric II
Mousey’s full glory. I’ve got more shots like this that have more detail and will be shared on the first official Mousey post.
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1929 Royal Portable typewriter
My new 1929 Royal Portable in black/green duotone. Strangely enough I am getting attached to the highlighted ‘H’ key. It adds a nice quirk to it.
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The Golden-Touch Variations

Alright. This post is rather cobbled together, full of pictures of several different Underwood Golden-Touch typewriters. Each one of these machines has something that is different than mine, be it colors, layouts, or decals. First, the advertisements:
Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter Magazine AdvertisementUnderwood Golden-Touch Typewriter Print Advertisement
The ads above clarify that ‘Golden-Touch’ refers to how light the touch is. BAH! I object! Mine may have been tuned to someone’s liking, I’ll admit, but mine does NOT have a light touch. Golden, yes. I love the touch on mine. But light? Not so much. See my Golden-Touch review for clarification.
Getting back on track though, see that the machines in both the above ads are blue, yet still manage to have keyboard variations. The one above has an all-white, and the one below is all-grey. The switches on the faces are also white and grey, respectively.

Here are pictures of mine, taken for the Typewriter Database:

1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter

Grey with an all-grey keyboard. Pretty office-like in my opinion. Yet Michael Clemens‘ machine is robin’s egg blue with the all-grey keyboard. You can view that one here. Who was Underwood marketing to? Offices or people? I’ve seen red Golden-Touch typewriters in the ads, so clearly some of them are colorful.

The earliest machine that isn’t that different from the Golden-Touch is the Underwood SX150.  These were early 50’s, and looked almost exactly the same, but with five differences. Firstly, up-and-down switches instead of twist switches. Secondly, a huge globe logo. Thirdly, the touch control is on the right side. Fourthly, the flip-down faceplate isn’t as concave as the newer ones. Fifthly, an Underwood decal on the paper table. Other than that, pretty much identical.

Underwood SX-150 Typewriter
These pictures come from this auction listing.
Underwood SX-150 TypewriterUnderwood SX-150 TypewriterUnderwood SX-150 Typewriter
Another thing that I saw was the keyboard color differentiation. All of the edge keys are black, but every other key is grey.
Following in that vein is the following Golden-Touch, which also has the same kind of color separation in its keys. This one has the same greys that mine does, yet has a large swath of white in its keyboard.
Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
Below is a Golden-Touch with a really odd color separation. The whole keyboard is white, with the exceptions of the tab key and spacebar. The switches on the face are grey as well! Another thing that this machine has that the other new ones shown thus far don’t, is a decal logo on the paper table:
Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
These pictures are from this auction.
Underwood Typewriter Paper Table DecalWhat gives, Underwood? I would like that decal, too! Well, it doesn’t end there. The color that I wasn’t expecting at all was a bizarre green:
Underwood Golden-Touch TypewriterUnderwood Golden-Touch TypewriterUnderwood Golden-Touch TypewriterWhat gets me about that one is that it has a grey keyboard, but an oddly green spacebar and tabulator. Oh, yeah, and then there are the green switches and platen knobs. Also greeting us is the decal logo, which seems to be laughing at me the more that I see it: “Consistency? I think not!” Thankfully, the keycaps are relatively consistent. No changes in what the margin release and whatnot say.
Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
They went there.
Underwood Golden-Touch TypewriterUnderwood Golden-Touch TypewriterAt this point, I can’t say that I’m surprised. A grey typewriter with the logo, white keyboard & green surrounding keys, yet no double-moulded M-R or BKS. And to top it off the switches and platen knobs are once again that odd green color.
Underwood never ceases to amaze, though, and produced one that was identical to this one in every way, but decided to put the M-R and BKS back on it.
Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
From this online auction.
Yep. Right up there you can see M-R and BKS.
Underwood Golden-Touch TypewriterHiding in the left is the decal logo, and just to the right of the center is the green knob.
Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
I don’t know why this one is in here. We know about the platen kno — hold up. Look down in the lower right. The margin select button is green, too! Have those been changing colors this whole time without me noticing? Well, I went back to look, and they have. I haven’t seen white, but grey, black (SX150), and green seem to be the colors that those are moulded in.
How many variations are there? Do the red ones have green keyboards, too? How about red paint, black keyboards with green letters, white switches, and the decal logo? How random does this get? It seems like Underwood had a slot machine in its factory, and every time one of these got to the plastic parts someone cranked the slot and waited for it to say what colors to put on the thing. I guess it’ll take keeping my eyes open to see what’s out there, but it certainly seems that red is the most uncommon paint color on these machines, and that the decal logo is an added bonus.
Keep your eyes out for different color schemes. That way we can get a good idea on the rarity of some of these combinations.
-2008 Apple iMac

Typewriter Day 2014: Golden-Touch Review

Yes, I know that typewriter day was yesterday. I typed the whole thing out and then promptly misplaced it! After recovering it I made sure that it got online ASAP.

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1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
It may be dirty, but it types like a dream!

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1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
That would be an oddly shaped jackhammer…
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1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
Right there.


Black text on white background1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter
1958 Underwood Golden-Touch Typewriter

The T1peM0nkey Insurgency Manifesto

As promised, here is my version of the typewriter insurgency manifesto! All I really did was put ‘The Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto’ and ‘The Anti-Keychopper Manifesto’ together. If you haven’t read those, check them out here and here.

Typewritten manifesto on white background