Your Corner: The Typewriter is Back

A typewriter repairman in San Diego says he's as busy as ever, preserving the machines for future generations

What’s old is new again, or at least popular again.

The typewriter is making a comeback, and the workshop in Mitchell Vassiliou’s San Diego backyard is the perfect example.

“It keeps progressing, and it gets busier and busier,” said Vassiliou, surrounded by dozens of typewriters he’s been hired to clear, repair, and restore.  “I think it’s a little bit of a frenzy.”

The repairman said he works on two to three typewriters a day and is backlogged for about two weeks.

For decades, Vassiliou has run a business in San Diego repairing business machines including everything from typewriters to computers. He said he first started noticing the typewriter coming back into style about five years ago.

“And the pricing of typewriters is growing. It’s like every year the typewriters are $25 or $50 more than they were before,” Vassiliou explained.

Tanya McAnear has noticed the same trend in her South Park vintage shop, Bad Madge & Company. She sold her first typewriter in the store to an 8-year-old boy.

“His enthusiasm was super contagious. So, I thought, okay, this is something I want to carry on a regular basis,” said McAnear.

She does not see it ending.

“ I know what a fad is. This is a trend,” she said. “It’s not going to fade out right away. I definitely have been selling typewriters. I haven’t seen a slow down in it, at all.”

Another person pretty keyed into the typewriter market is Mark Martin, a local middle school teacher with about 130 typewriters in his collection. His oldest piece dates back to the 1800s.

For the past 12 years he’s been buying typewriters at garage sales, some for only $5. He said there’s a good reason there are still so many old typewriters out there.

“They were built to last and, actually, the technology didn’t change that much over time,” said Martin.

All three people who spoke with NBC 7 said the revival of the typewriter could be explained by a number of factors.

For one, Vassiliou said there is an intimacy to putting ink to paper that is lost in today's digital communication.

“Because it’s like a piece of you, you give someone. Usually, if you type something on a typewriter, they’ll keep it. An email gets deleted,” he said.

McAnear said that when it comes to the typing machines, she sees a curiosity in customers.

“I hear it all the time from kids, 'Look, daddy, what is that?' They don’t know,” she said.

Martin said some of his oldest typewriters are like works of art.

“They have metal and oak, and bases, and cases. They’re just very beautiful pieces of machinery,” he said.

For Vassiliou, this low-tech revival works out perfectly. It keeps him doing a job he loves.

“I love it a lot. I won’t ever stop,” he said, laughing.

Vassiliou could not look more at home sitting in his workshop where the history of the typewriter is still being written today.

“I just say this is where the magic happens,” he added.

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