September 12, 2008

The Last Typewriter Repair Shop

When was the last time you used a typewriter, or saw one for that matter? The last time I used one was over ten years ago, to write up a speech I gave in high school. And even then, it was by choice, as I had other more modern options I could have used. There is a unique joy in the sound of typewriter keys click-clacking. However, in this world of computers, laptops, and smartphones, you'd think it'd be impossible to find a typewriter. Not so.

typewriterIn a small storefront in Ravenswood, you'll find hundreds of these writing tools of days gone by, stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling. Independence Business Machines is the last typewriter repair shop in the city, and one of only a handful left in the entire country! Since 1964, owner Steve Kazmierski has been restoring all kinds of manual and electric typewriters.

Despite what you may think, this store is not an empty museum. Customers are always stopping in. According to Kazmierski, many newspaper journalists actually prefer old-fashioned manual typewriters. Ironically, Steve himself does not type very well; he uses his two forefingers.

typewriter teethSome of the machines date back to the late 19th century. And while they may be 100 years old (or more), you'll be surprised to find that many of the antique machines are still in working order. Collectors would pay into the thousands for these pieces of history, which Kazmierski spends over a dozen hours restoring.

I am a gadget fan, and I enjoy all the conveniences that modern technologies afford us. Keyboards come in all shapes and sizes'from flexible to light-up to not even there!'but nothing beats the sound of the original. Chicago is helping keep this piece of history from being entirely lost.

Photo credit: (c/o SXC) Marcin Soko'owski, mirko delcaldo

Independence Business Machines: 1623 W Montrose Ave; 773-248-5548
Mon ' Fri: 10:00 a.m. ' 2:00 p.m.
Sat: 10:00 a.m. ' 1:00 p.m.
Street parking
Public trans: Bus # 78 or Brown Line train (Montrose)

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