ARLINGTON (CBS) – The pandemic has changed the way we live. Remote learning. Work from home. Zoom calls all day long.
A lot of people are yearning for life to be more simple. That has made a low tech machine wildly popular again: the typewriter.
If you walk into Cambridge Typewriter in Arlington, you will see what appears to be a graveyard of keys and ribbons. Spacebars and knobs. A mound of machines with stories written and forgotten.
There are between 400 and 500 typewriters waiting for repair or up for sale. And you will find Tom Furrier working hard at his workbench fighting to keep the typewriter alive.
“At the end of the very first day, this voice in my head said ‘this is it,’” he said.
Furrier’s first day was 41 years ago. He’s gone from young apprentice to owner, as the world went from typewriters to tablets.
“The business was decimated; the entire typewriter industry was gone in three or four years,” Furrier said. “I was weeks away from telling my landlord ‘that’s it I’m cashing out, I’m closing down.’”
But over the past 20 years, typewriters became “vintage” and “vintage” became cool. And then the pandemic hit.
“My phone started ringing off the hook. They wanted to come in,” Furrier said.
When the lockdown began Furrier decided he would sell his typewriters curbside. So, people would come to the window and point at the typewriter they wanted to try. Then they would sit on a bench outside testing them out. There were lines of people every day.
“We’re the busiest we have been in 41 years. The busiest,” he said.
In a time of doom and Zoom, customers tell Furrier they want something simple.
“I’m sick of my laptop. I’m throwing it away! Quick sell me a typewriter!” Furrier said. “For real.”
Computers crushed the typewriter. A pandemic has brought them back and Tom Furrier has never been busier or happier.