By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jun 15, 2024 at 12:31 PM

OnMilwaukee is the media sponsor of QWERTYFEST MKE. A three-day festival celebrating the invention of the typewriter in Milwaukee 150 years ago.

Growing up, Richard Polt was fascinated by typewriters.

"They’re like word pianos, finite keyboards with infinite compositional possibilities," says Polt.

Polt's father gave him his first machine, a Remington Noiseless No. 7, when he was 12. He still uses it today.

"When I discovered 19th-century typewriters, with their mind-blowing designs, I really got hooked," says Polt.

Polt, a professor of philosophy at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, has about 300 typewriters today. He is also the author of "The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century," considered to be the most comprehensive book about typewriters published in the 21st Century. Polt also appeared in the 2016 documentary featuring Tom Hanks called "California Typewriter."

Polt will give a presentation in Milwaukee in conjunction with QWERTYFEST MKE on Saturday, June 22 at The Charles Allis Museum, 1801 N. Prospect Ave., at 3 p.m. The event is free. Polt is also competing in "The Quick Brown Fox" typing contest, also in conjunction with QWERTYFEST, on Friday, June 21 at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 Vel R. Phillips Ave.

Here's a quick Q&A with Polt:

typewriter revolutionX

OnMilwaukee: What exactly is a "typewriter revolution?"

Richard Polt: It’s a personal revolution that liberates an individual from the craving to be efficient and online all the time. It celebrates focus, self-reliance and imagination. Our individual typewriter revolutions can come together as our machines offer connections to a wide range of creative and independent people, culminating in events such as QWERTYFEST.

What are three interesting things to know about you?

I was born in Madrid. I’m 6-foot, 7-inches tall but too klutzy to play basketball. My other hobby is eccentric Chicago mystery writer Harry Stephen Keeler. He typed on a continuous roll of paper with his L.C. Smith.

Have you been to Milwaukee, the birthplace of the typewriter, before?

Yes, my last visit to Milwaukee was for an international typewriter collectors’ convention in 2014. We drooled over the Milwaukee Public Museum’s rarities. I’m eager to return.

What will you talk about during your QWERTYFEST presentation?

It’s called “Revolution Forever!” I’ll survey what’s happened in the typewriter world since I published my book, and explain why typewriters are here to stay. The more our world turns into a hyper-surveilled, AI-infested nightmare, the more we need non-digital alternatives. Besides—typewriters are just fun.

How can people buy "The Typewriter Revolution?"
To support independent bookstores, I recommend

For more information about QWERTYFEST MKE, including the Richard Polt presentation, go here.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.