On Writing and the Underwood 319

My Underwood 319

My Underwood 319

When I first began writing seriously, it was on borrowed manual typewriters… the portable kind. For those who grew up typing, not keyboarding, there is a nostalgic-comforting sound to old manual typewriters. It is the same feeling I get from the sound of basketballs bouncing on a gym floor or the sounds of a bowling alley.

Writing on a manual typewriter is a physical thing, a tactile thing, an auditory experience. The click-clacking of the keys. The bell at the end of the line. The joy of advancing to the next line.

A number of years ago I picked up a manual typewriter of my own, an Underwood 319 at a garage sale. I dusted it off, played with it for awhile, then put it away. There was no easy place for it to stay. And so it went downstairs to collect dust and to wait.

A new working-space in my house has now opened up. It means that after a number of years I have room again. Today I went downstairs and brought the typewriter up. Took it out of the case and began to write.

My Underwood 319 (pictured) is tan and well-used and now sits in my new writing space. Researching on the internet, I came upon this information about the machine.

 Underwood, the great American typewriter manufacturer, was acquired by famed Italian typewriter manufacture Olivetti in the 1960s. The merged company continued to manufacture typewriters under the name of Olivetti Underwood or Underwood Olivetti. In the late 70s, however, the Underwood name was revived and used on machines that the company manufactured in Spain. One of these was the Underwood 319….
    The body of the machine as well as the keys is made from molded plastic, but the interior mechanism is all-steel and is based on Olivetti’s famous Lettera machines…. The font style is Pica, which looks like a large Times New Roman. In fact, it most resembles the American Typewriter font that Apple includes in its office suite. As you can see, it is sober, well-spaced, and very readable. (cf. Retro Tech Geneva)


The first poem I typed (on a “stale” ribbon) is, appropriately, one about time.




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