I became a giddy owner of a vintage Brother Portable Typewriter JP-1 (1963) from eBay.

The last time I used a typewriter was at my grandmother’s house. This of course, was back in the day in my pre-teens. Her typewriter was of a steel unibody encased in jade green plastic. I loved the mechanical press of the keys and the ting of the header lever. I was struck by the ingenuity of the underlying mechanics and the consistent precision of the typeface. It spawned the one-finger typing technique.

To own a vintage typewriter in the 21st century is my inner geek in acquiring old technology. I already own a Polaroid 600-series camera and I also own a classic Olympus Trip 35mm film camera, amongst other old-school gadgetry including a ThinkPad X220. I would like to own a traditional 35mm SLR camera, but that’s for another time. It’s weird to think that analogue trumps digital formats. However, I am unlikely to start buying vinyl music. Spotify works well for me.

Like my Olympus Trip, I unclogged my newly acquired typewriter. I think I may have gone through 30 cotton buds just to clear out the grime. The condition is near excellent and I am considering giving it a makeover and spray paint it a burgundy red. I already purchased several Montana spray cans including a base coat, a metallic blue, and a gloss coating.

Alternatively, I could leave it in its grey state, though I wish to spice it up. However, there are two metal components I am not sure how to prey open. There is also a lingering musty oil smell from the mechanics. My nasals tell me it doesn’t need new oil at present.

Did you know that typewriters have an ‘@’ symbol? But why, especially in the 1960’s?

I acquired new ink ribbons (also from eBay) that work like a treat. I did consider buying an acoustic pad to replace the faded cardboard offering of the Brother typewriter. I understand buying acoustic padding for a typewriter seems completely illogical. I guess I just want to extend the longevity of the machine and give it some TLC.

Maybe I am turning into a hipster.

At the time of writing, I have purchased yet another typewriter at half the price I paid for the Japanese Brother typewriter. This time, it’s an Olivetti Lettera 22 (1964). Italian brand, made in Glasgow of Great Britain. This one comes with the original instructions and manuals. Both typewriters come with its original casing. The keys on the Olivetti is very smooth to strike, though I have yet to start cleaning it. It needs a real good clean, especially the mechanics behind the page feeder as it jams. However, I will likely spray paint the Olivetti metallic blue, as the metal components are easier to dismantle.

My next vintage investment will go towards a fountain pen, as I have a thing for pens, especially quality pens. I like pens from Japan and Germany, mostly Tombow and Staedtler. It’s been an equal ambition to own a proper fountain pen, as I love the concept of a flowy ink- filled pen, much like sketching with a scratchy HB pencil. It will be a traditional fountain pen which allows you to manually refill the ink, and not the clean way of recharging a fountain pen with disposable cartridges.

Final Thoughts

There is a reason for exploring the vintage era. There is something fascinating about old technology… they still work! They may not look visually appealing like the fashion and trends of today, but the design and engineering of these common objects defined its genre to our modern day replacements.

I also like the concept of tinkering with things in a very practical way. Although I enjoy tinkering with computers and tech-related projects (i.e. Raspberry Pi, web development), clicking on a mouse or swiping my fingers on a glass trackpad doesn’t give me the same satisfaction or intimacy as tools that I can handle.

It is the ‘old-school’ worldview that tickles my fancy to experience once again, which I desire to base an underlying concept for this Kingdom-focus vision. I won’t spell it out, but it is something I am learning to master and grow confident – and I look forward to applying this USP in practice, because it is desperately needed in our society more than ever! Who would have thought a typewriter can transport a person Back to the Future? Great Scott!


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