I Like to TYPE. Hear That? — Tom Hanks and an Audio History of Typewriters

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Growing up, you learn that cows moo, birds chirp, and cats meow. But as Tom Hanks informs us in this New York Times piece, there are different species of typewriters, each possessing it’s own unique mating call, and each is music to his ears.

He writes: “The sound of typing is one reason to own a vintage manual typewriter. . . In addition to sound, there is the sheer physical pleasure of typing; it feels just as good as it sounds, the muscles in your hands control the volume and cadence of the aural assault so that the room echoes with the staccato beat of your synapses. You can choose the typewriter to match your sound signature.” See the sound signatures below and read his article, here.

Courtesy of Jeremiah Vandermeer

“Remingtons from the 1930s go THICK THICK”

Courtesy of Peter Honeyman

“Midcentury Royals sound like a voice repeating the word CHALK. CHALK. CHALK CHALK.”

Courtesy of mpclemens

“Even the typewriters made for the dawning jet age (small enough to fit on the fold-down trays of the first 707s), like the Smith Corona Skyriter and the design masterpieces by Olivetti, go FITT FITT FITT like bullets from James Bond’s silenced Walther PPK.”

“Composing on a Groma, exported to the West from a Communist country that no longer exists, is the sound of work, hard work.”

1950's olympia
Courtesy of mpclemens on Flickr

“Try this experiment: on your laptop, type out the opening line of “Moby Dick” and it sounds like callmeishmael. Now do the same on a 1950s Olympia (need one? I’ve got a couple) and behold: CALL! ME! ISHMAEL! Use your iPad to make a to-do list and no one would even notice, not that anyone should.”

DnA wonders what Tom Hanks would think of  Remington Rand’s famous “noiseless typewriter?”

Courtesy of mpclemens

Let us know if you still crave the analog experience of a typewriter, and which is your favorite.