LAFAYETTE – Julie Hutson, office manager at Lafayette’s Imperial Travel, was the first person in the company to get a typewriter back in 1982. Hutson still uses that typewriter today.
It’s not a choice she’s ever thought twice about. She prefers using it over a computer for certain tasks.
"It has bigger keys and your wrists are not flat on the keyboard," she said. "It’s just faster."
Hutson isn’t the only one who thinks so.
Jim Courter, owner of Typewriters Plus in Lafayette, said many area businesses still use typewriters, often to write out addresses or fill out multipart forms.
Courter bought the typewriter repair shop in 1998, after individuals and businesses were starting to transition to computers. Despite this, Courter said, he hasn’t really seen a significant downturn in store traffic, in fact, he does a pretty brisk business.
"I work on computers too, but I’m busier with typewriters," Courter said.
There are three main sectors Courter services typewriters for: business, the older generation and 20-somethings.
Banks in particular still use typewriters because certain forms are easier to fill out on the machines.
"Some workers can actually type an envelope faster on a typewriter than on the computer. It’s easier to get it formatted, putting the envelopes in the printer, going between the computer and the printer, which never works anyways," Courter said.
Then there is the older generation, some people who never learned or simply don’t like typing on a computer. He said many find using a computer for correspondence is distasteful.
"There is a generation of people out there that believe a typewritten letter is more personal than one printed off a printer," he added.
Finally, there is the most puzzling group, but one Courter is thankful to have: veterans of the hipster movement wanting to write novels or correspondence on refurbished typewriters.
Courter said he’s not surprised at the reappropriation of the technology. There is something romantic about the sound and feel of a typewriter.
Recently, Courter said he repaired a machine for a young man who was loathe to part from his typewriter for even a day.
Some people from this group don’t even want them for perpetual use.
"I had two young ladies bring in manual typewriters because they were going to have them at their weddings for people to type a small notes on," Courter said. "I guess it was a Pinterest thing."
A smaller part of his business also includes people hoping to restore inherited typewriters, and he’s also repaired a few Braillers.
Braillers are essentially typewriters with six keys, one corresponding to each dot of the Braille code.
Courter said he thinks business will continue as it has for the past two decades, steadily with occasional dips here and there.
"I just like fixing broken things. I enjoy tinkering and sometimes I get something in here I’ve not really seen before and it’s like a new adventure."