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The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  216 ratings  ·  41 reviews
The connoisseur's guide to the typewriter, entertaining and practical

What do thousands of kids, makers, poets, artists, steampunks, hipsters, activists, and musicians have in common? They love typewriters—the magical, mechanical contraptions that are enjoying a surprising second life in the 21st century, striking a blow for self-reliance, privacy, and coherence against dep
Paperback, 382 pages
Published October 2015 by Countryman Press
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Ron Charles
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
In 1983, I spent $800 on a new typewriter and $425 on an engagement ring. Anyone who understands the economics of that passion should get a copy of “The Typewriter Revolution,” by Richard Polt. Billed as “A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century,” this delightfully illustrated book grew out of a Web site that Polt started in 1995 to connect with like-minded collectors of antique typewriters. Years later, he pecked out “The Typewriter Manifesto,” a proclamation of the typospherians’ determinatio ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a little of everything: the history of the typewriter; various models; the typewriter insurgency that is growing; various art forms of the typewriter; and how so many people are choosing the typewriter over computers in order to have a more authentic connection with themselves and the world around them.

I just purchased a Smith-Corona Clipper and am working on getting it refurbished. If you are into typewriters in any way, shape, or form, this book will delight your soul.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent look at typewriter history, pluses and minuses of various vintage typewriters you might be interested in, and the place of typewriters in today's world. At times, the revolution/insurgency metaphor was a bit wearying, but it ultimately didn't detract from how interesting and useful I found this book to be. Be warned, however, that this book might make you crave your own typewriter - I bought two during the two weeks I was reading it... ...more
Chad Harrison
Fantastic. So many of the nonfiction books I’ve read could easily have been articles; they have a solid thesis, but repeat that thesis over and over with slightly different examples and different phrases. Polt’s book is entirely different. It’s part technical typewriter repair manual, part history, part journalism, and part philosophical rumination. I didn’t feel the boredom of repetition, just the draw to find out more. It helps that I’ve really gotten into typewriters lately, but even if I had ...more
Angela Magic Art
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Phenomenal book! Absolutely everything you need or could want to know about typewriters, and the typewriter community all in one wonderfully written, engaging book! The design of this book is just stellar! From the cover, to the photo layouts, to the ribbon bookmark! Just perfect. I devoured this book in a matter of a week, and had so much fun learning so much. So much valuable information, from repair, to culture, to community, to inspiration.
J.W. Donley
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
This book is amazing! The bookmark even looks like a typewriter ribbon. There is a lot of great info in here on how to care for your typewriter and the sorts of fun things you can do with it. If you are obsessed with typewriters, you are not alone. Get this book now!
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A few months ago, the Olivetti Underwood Lettera 32 my grandfather presented to me about 40 years ago developed carriage trouble. Soon, I was unable to continue typing letters to friends and relatives. Because of the lockdown, I couldn't go to antique shops in the area to look for a parts typewriter. I ordered this book and now I am ready to begin the necessary research so that I can repair by beloved Lettera 32. In addition, I have learned so much about the "Typewriter Revolution" and the news ...more
Elvia Palacios
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for a newbie typewriter fanatic like me. I borrowed this book from the library but may need a copy for my personal collection, especially to refer back to chapters on maintenance and repairs.
Morton Grove Public Library
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-reviews
Review by Chad Comello, Adult Services Librarian

I discovered, located at my local library, checked out, and read this book within about two days. And wouldn’t you know it, now all I want to do is use my typewriter.

The Typewriter Revolution is at once a reference manual, art gallery, travelogue, manifesto, and paean to the not-dead-yet world of typewriters and their passionate proponents. Polt writes about typewriters being used today in classrooms to better teach kids composition, by street poet
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review was (unfortunately) not composed on a typewriter, but reading this beautiful book—nay, merely getting a few pages in—inspired me to bring out the IBM Selectric I that I inherited from my grandma and get the ink flowing again. Despite the incessant underlying whirr-hum that accompanies electrics, I loved the whole process of using it, and the basic thrill of having a piece of paper stamped with the words of my doing without the overlording influence of the Internet and that blasted di ...more
William Bibliomane
An attractively-designed book (complete with two-color typewriter ribbon-esque bookmark bound into the spine), which is full of useful tips on the care and maintenance of a typewriter in the 21st century. Polt attempts to demonstrate that the typewriter is alive and well in the digital age, and does so mostly convincingly. What doesn't work for this reviewer (and typewriter user) are the photos of smug gits posed with their typewriters in various milieux, but there's enough good here to forgive ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I have joined the revolution! If you want to know about typewriters Polt’s book is a must. History, parts, what kind to buy, The Typosphere, an online world for typers and so much more is all here to inform and inspire you. After contemplating a typewriter purchase for years and browsing typewriters to purchase online, Polt’s passion has rubbed off. I’ve adopted the manifesto and joined the insurgency! Ordered my typewriter from Wessel at Working Typewriters in the Netherlands. It has shipped! T ...more
Marta Pelrine-Bacon
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book for typewriter lovers everywhere. Lots of useful info and love for wonderful machines.
Joanna Calder
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Now that I have become a manual typewriter collector, this book resonates tremendously. The book is about the typewriter insurgency, with the following as its manifesto:

“We assert our right to resist the Paradigm,
to rebel against the Information Regime,
to escape the Data Stream.
We strike a blow for self-reliance,
and coherence
against dependency, surveillance, and disintegration.

We affirm the written word and written thought against
and the meme.

We choose
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is a good start in learning about the history of typewriters, I think. I say that because I am sure this is only a fraction of the information out there. This book has a lot of cool facts and resources but, sometimes, I was rolling my eyes at the pretentious viewpoints of the author. I love typewriters and I felt the author articulated what makes them special but other times I was saying to myself “Good lord, it ain’t that deep.” Honestly, maybe it is a challenge to discuss typewriters ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nf
If you have any interest in typewriters, their history, mechanics, maintenance, which one to buy, or how to join the revolution, this is defintely the book for you. It lends itself more to browsing than cover to cover reading. And there's just a bit too much of the author in the book. It's greatest flaw, and one that's rather ironic, is that the type font is way too small! ...more
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Here's my essay about this book for the Chicago Tribune:

It’s possible to spend a fair length of time doing something intuitively, just because you can sense somehow that that thing is good and right and beneficial for you; then, there is an added pleasure that can be gotten after someone else comes along and articulates—using clear language and beautifully reasoned arguments—what you had so far only felt on instinct. This unexpected but entirely welcome artic
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century while waiting for my 1925 Royal typewriter to be reconditioned. It was the perfect time to read it, even though I didn’t know that when I purchased It. The book begins with “The Typewriter Manifesto”, parts of which are used as an interlude before each chapter. I learned a lot about typewriters in general and some things about my Royal in particular. Just about everything that a typist needs to know is in in the book, fr ...more
Mary Jedde
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was phenomenal. It narrates the story of the typewriter revolution - describing how typewriters are still acclaimed in the present moment despite it being a thing of the past.

It is amazing to see stories of typewriter enthusiasts and how they used the machine as an intervention to make people smile - for example, typing letters on the spot for a stranger describing their good traits.

I am also appreciative of the fact that this book illustrated the common types of typewriters and how
Jeff Zell
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: typewriters
Typewriters are making a comeback. Especially manual typewriters. This book tells the history of the typewriter. Polk focuses on manual typewriters.

Polt explains who is buying and using typewriters now. They are, by and large, younger people who are intimately familiar with all things digital but who want to think and write in a non-connected way. Polt explains what models of typewriters are available. The verbal descriptions are accompanied by pictures. He interviews people about why they are u
Denise Terriah
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. It was an engaging and beautiful read. I'd recommend it to anyone who even has a passing fancy about typewriters. It really did have a little bit of everything. There was a section on the history of the typewriter, collecting typewriters, restoring typewriters, repairing typewriters, modifying typewriters, and the usage of typewriters by the typosphere in our modern world. Each section was well-researched, well-written, and richly illustrated. If this book isn't enough to ...more
bibliotekker Holman
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I grew up in the era when the typewriter was still dominant and computers were just wannabee usurpers. This book, one of many celebrating and documenting the resurgence of analog, has shifted my thinking regarding a tool I left behind decades ago. In an increasingly Orwellian present, when all our devices seem to be watching and manipulating us for shadowy government and corporate purposes, it hearkens back to a simpler time when the written word was truly ones own. A good primer on the current ...more
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
The information in here is priceless—there is a reason to have a 21st century guide. I learned a lot and was able to use it immediately, and I recommend reading this with a typewriter present for you to examine. That said, I could really do with the hot air about using typewriters being "revolutionary," or the people using them being "insurgents." Yeah, it's great to unplug and focus and work with your hands. No, it is not any kind of uprising. How can you look around the world and equate a quai ...more
Kevin Burton
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about typewriters and GREAT information if you want to try a typewriter to get tough writing projects done faster. (You actually write the 1st draft on the typewriter and you'll be amazed how quickly you'll finish without the distractions of a computer - Even when you turn the internet off, etc., the computer causes most of us to wonder about e-mail, shopping, news, social media, heck, even Goodreads :) ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A good history, an introduction to vintage typewriters (not much discussion of "modern" ones), a guide to reconditioning and repair, and a collection of inspirational essays. It is a good book for anyone who used a typewriter in the "good old days" or has the romantic spirit to celebrate the virtues or ink on paper. ...more
Sanjoy Kumar Mitra
Just delightful and joyous!

Absolutely loved it! I have got my Facit 1740 fixed and serviced and am using it for writing official letters and also practising to improve my wpm count!
Rick Jackofsky
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A well written comprehensive guide to typewriters, past, present, and future, as well as the people who use them. From old school writers, who never abandoned their cherished machines, to information super highway refugees searching for some unplugged peace of mind.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brain, writing, manifesto
On the kinetic experience of typing, the visual experience of reading a work of art, and the attentive experience of taking one's time. ...more
Dan Johnson
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The future is analog.
Kyle Feuerbach
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! The book itself is organized beautifully. This is a great collectors item. I will refer to this book often.
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Richard F. H. Polt is a professor of philosophy at Xavier University. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago (1991). His main interests are the metaphysical and ethical problems of Greek and German philosophy. He has taught elective courses on a variety of topics, including Plato, Ari ...more

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