Ode to an Old Underwood


This vintage Underwood typewriter was the office workhorse of its day. In the early 1900s it probably typed thousands of letters and addressed an equal number of envelopes. Unlike today’s keyboards, a writer needed strong fingers to compose on this.

I love the look of this machine and that’s probably why I had to buy it at a yard sale more than 20 years ago. It was the first of what’s become a small collection of old typewriters that I keep on display in my office.

A few years ago at a Fourth of July celebration, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra performed a piece called “Typewriter.” I remember feeling a bit nostalgic when the conductor had to explain to the younger members of the audience that a typewriter made a certain ding! sound as a signal to return the carriage.

I’m so glad composer Leroy Anderson wrote such clever piece of typewriter music in 1950. It means the ding! sound is preserved forever.

You can watch–and hear–a version of “Typewriter” on this YouTube video featuring percussionist Martin Breinschmid with the Strauss Festival Orchestra in Vienna.

2 responses to “Ode to an Old Underwood”

  1. Abra Alani

    That is such a neat ode! How fun. And what a cool thing to collect! I am jealous of the one you have pictured (and probably some of your others as well)! I bet I could do some interesting things – photogenically – with a typewriter like that. Very cool!

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