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Typewriter fans find an Internet link to past

January 12, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Typewriter enthusiasts are using the tool of the present and future to collect pieces of the past.

As computers made typewriters obsolete, shops that once sold the clacking metal contraptions banished them to dusty storage shelves.

But now, collectors are using the Internet to chat about their antique machines, trade tips and hunt for outdated parts.

``There are really only two places to find these machines: the flea markets and online,″ said Steve Sperber, 41, a Woodland Hills copywriter who surfs the World Wide Web regularly for new typewriter acquisitions.

All Valley Typewriters Inc. in Burbank is among stores that have benefited from the renewed interest. Owner Louise Haynes began receiving e-mail orders for typewriter parts and repairs after her son built an Internet site devoted to the shop,

``People really love their old clunkers,″ said Haynes, 58. ``Some guy from Palos Verdes found us online and came up to have us restore one typewriter with the parts of another. It seems like such an anachronism, but the computer has helped get us business.″

Darryl Rehr, a free-lance reporter, said nearly all 75 of his old machines needed repair when he bought them. What he can’t find at local swap meets he unearths online.

``There’s only so many places to find parts,″ said Rehr, 46, who estimates there are two dozen active typewriter collectors in the Los Angeles area. ``When you’re looking for a specific type of ribbon or a certain kind of wooden part, you’ve almost got to turn to the antique news groups and Web pages on the Net.″

For those who long for the past but can’t part with their PC, some software companies have developed programs that mimic the fonts of old typewriters.

Goleta-based Vintage Type lets Web users download fonts that duplicate the antique typefaces of old Royals and Underwoods. The letters are authentic, down to the dirt-encrusted vowels.

Pasadena-based Anderson Typewriter Co. also uses a Web site to advertise its services.

``Everyone uses computers,″ said David Anderson, 39, who works in the family’s repair shop, ``but these old machines are beautiful.″

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