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In Marketplace

Vintage typewriters are coveted by English majors throughout the world.

In Marketplace

Christopher Sholes is buried in the Forest Home Cemetery.

In Marketplace

Sholes is "the father of the typewriter."

Guide to typewriter repair shops




Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Aug. 29, 2010 at 11:04 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.


Sure, it might seem strange that an online magazine would post an article about typewriters, but OnMilwaukee.com did it anyway. After all, OnMilwaukee.com loves all things "Milwaukee" and Brew City is said to be the birthplace of the modern typewriter.

It's true: in 1868, Christopher L. Sholes, a journalist, poet and part-time inventor, created the first modern typewriter in Milwaukee called the Sholes & Glidden.

Sholes also invented the "qwerty" keyboard, which places the letters Q, W, E, R, T and Y as the first six keys in the upper left corner of the keyboard. This arrangement of letters has been the standard for typewriters ever since. (Originally, the keys of Sholes' typewriter were arranged in alphabetical order, but the mechanical bars kept jamming, so he rearranged his keyboard, putting the letters that jammed farther apart.)

Sholes sold the rights to his machine to Remington in 1873. He died in 1890 and is buried in the Forest Home Cemetery, 2405 W. Forest Home Ave.

Now fast forward 130 years later. Despite the ubiquitousness of computers, the typewriter is still used today in practical and strictly-aesthetic capacities.

For example, Bay View couple Lane Burns and Jason Boose will exchange vows in the summer of 2011, and their wedding will include three vintage typewriters from the early-to-mid 1900s. The plan is to have guests type messages on swatches of muslin in lieu of a guest book.

Guests will then hang their typed-on swatch from an attractive "clothesline" for others to enjoy during the wedding. Burns says after the wedding she plans to have the swatches made into a quilt.

"One of these typewriters has been in Jason's family for a long time," says Burns."We wanted to include them."

Bob Robinson is the executive director of marketing for Royal, a company that once dominated the typewriter industry. Today, the business still sells typewriters, but predominantly sells office supplies.

"People are still using typewriters," says Robinson. "Mostly portable ones. And we sell a lot of typewriters in Mexico, because they don't require electricity."

Individuals and businesses still use typewriters to type out forms that cannot be filled in online or because their office has not converted to digital. For others, using a typewriter is easier than learning how to use a computer. Others like the privacy of typed documents because they are uncomfortable with information "floating around" on the Internet.

Also, some people -- such as Burns and Boose -- enjoy the aesthetic oftypewriters and use them to type letters or invitations.

"Typewriters are a heck of a lot easier to use on envelops," says Edward Skibba, who started the Ace Business Supplies Company in 1964 in Milwaukee.

Because people are still buying and using typewriters, there is still a market for repair in Milwaukee. So, to fix that sticky T on an Underwood, here are a few places that still repair typewriters.

Ace Business Machines
6022 W. National Ave., (414) 476-6720

In 1964, Edward Skibba started his typewriter repair business, which is now run by his son. The Skibbas repairs "everything but computers" including shredders, fax machines, printers and typewriters. The cost is $70 per hour.

Blue & Koepsell
739 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 746-5041

Originally called International Typewriter Exchange, Blue &Koepsell has serviced Milwaukee typewriters since 1934. Today, thebusiness is also an office supply company, but they still repair between 10and 12 typewriters every week. The cost is $60 per hour.

Teeter Warsh Company
9055 N. 51st St., (414) 354-3400

Teeter Warsh is the oldest typewriter dealership and repair shop in Milwaukee. The shop opened in 1924. Today, it offers repair on all office equipment, including typewriters. Teeter Warsh will repair or clean any typewriter, regardless of age. Prices vary; call for more information.

Todd Hoskins Service Specialists
4601 S. Beloit Rd., (414) 649-8973

Opened in 1982 as a typewriter repair shop, Todd Hoskins mostly repairs laser printers today. The business, however, still fixes vintage and new typewriters. The cost is $75 an hour.

Talkbacks

AFD | Oct. 3, 2010 at 8:44 p.m. (report)

Thanks for the article. It's great to have a nice list like this. Way better than what I got with a google search. I see this list was picked up here: http://staff.xu.edu/polt/typewriters/tw-repair.html interesting how typewriter usage continues. I and others have our reasons for using a typewriter. The people taking cheap shots here in the comments find it easy to criticize, instead of being intelligent enough to accept the fact that typewriters are useful, ipso facto. Or didn't they read article?

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buck | Aug. 30, 2010 at 10:32 a.m. (report)

Please review the best locations where I may hitch my horse and carriage, post haste!

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jakkalope | Aug. 29, 2010 at 11:23 a.m. (report)

This article isn't strange. OnMilwaukee writes useless articles all the time. We're all used to it. That's why I visit this site once a week when I'm very very bored.

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