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Sunday, July 21, 2024

The analog appeal captivates Generation Z: A newfound obsession with typewriters

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Millennials and Generation Z are embracing a nostalgic trend: the charm of analog. They’re snapping photos with film cameras and listening to vinyl records. Now, typewriters are making a remarkable comeback.

Curious about why Millenials and Generation Z are fascinated with typewriters—where one mistake means starting over—the Korea Daily visited Typewriter Muse, a store frequented by Hollywood star Tom Hanks.

Inside the Typewriter Muse, shelves are lined with over 30 vintage typewriters. The owner, Bob Marshall, proudly showcased a 1972 Hermes 3000.

 

Bob Marshall at Typewriter Muse [Jaesun Suh, The Korea Daily]

“This, is, techno, font,” he typed, the rhythmic sound of keys filling the room.

Marshall boasted about the typewriter’s ability to switch between thin “techno font” and cursive styles. Among the renowned brands like Underwood, Smith Corona, Remington, and Olympia, the mint-colored Hermes 3000 with its bright mint keys stood out.

Books about the history of typewriters and piles of paper typed on typewriters filled the store. After six years of business, Marshall’s display includes typewriters with and without tab functions, steno machines, and prices ranging from $300 to several thousand dollars.

 

Bob Marshall at Typewriter Muse [Jaesun Suh, The Korea Daily]

His clientele includes writers, poets, film and entertainment industry professionals, IT workers, typewriter artists, and young people enchanted by the analog experience.

Poets compile typed pages into books and share them on social media, captivating followers. Typewriter artists create intricate pictures using specific letters, showcasing dedication and effort. James Cook, a typewriter artist and content creator, produces both portraits and landscapes.

Even IT workers, tired of staring at screens, seek refuge in typewriters. The absence of a monitor provides a respite from digital fatigue.

The most unusual customers are white supremacists and radical religious groups avoiding digital surveillance. They rely on typewritten letters as their primary communication method.

With the rising demand for typewriters, manufacturers that had ceased production are reintroducing new models. Retail channels like Amazon and Etsy, as well as major retailers like Office Depot and Walmart, have resumed typewriter sales. Typewriters priced between $50 and $200 on Amazon are evidence of their growing popularity.

The Korea Daily asked Marshall about the allure of typewriters. Instead of answering, he handed the reporter a typewriter to try.

 

Interior View of Typewriter Muse [Jaesun Suh, The Korea Daily]

At first, the inability to erase mistakes made the reporter type cautiously. As the reporter grew accustomed, the typing speed increased. The deep keystrokes imprinted letters on the paper with a satisfying “thud.” The rhythmic clatter of the keys and the sound of the typebar striking the paper created a lively beat.

In a world where convenience is no longer novel, the deliberate effort required by typewriters is captivating. Loading paper into the platen, using the lever to change lines, and correcting mistakes without correction tape or fluid—all these steps offer a unique experience to those accustomed to digital convenience.

Without a monitor, typing on a typewriter allows for pure focus on writing. The sight of a blank page in the typewriter and the tactile feel of placing hands on the keys evoke a sense of being a writer.

Tom Hanks, who owns over 240 typewriters, says, “Each typewriter has a unique personality.” The results vary based on the user’s effort, providing a different emotional impact each time.

BY JAESUN SUH, YOUNGNAM KIM [suh.jaesun@koreadaily.com]