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LA typewriter repairman maintains business and purpose against internet tide

LA Times: “Twenty years ago, Martin Quezada was told the end was nigh. The sun was setting on the typewriter. Computers were king. Twenty years later, Quezada’s shop, International Office Machines in San Gabriel, is still in business. The downturn happened. But it did not defeat Quezada, now 61, who kept his doors open. He had loyal customers — small-business owners set in their ways, retirees unwilling or unable to learn to use a computer. He branched out into copiers and printers. He held on. Then young people took an interest in antique typewriters. A group of street poets brought Quezada several to repair. The typewriters were used to write poetry on demand for passersby. People ask Quezada to fix old typewriters they purchased on the internet. He sometimes buys them himself at thrift shops and flea markets. He recently found an Underwood from the 1940s at a yard sale.

In his backroom workshop on a recent afternoon, Quezada pulled handfuls of desiccated ribbon from the 70-year-old machine. He removed the rolling pin-like platen and coaxed tiny springs into place with hooked instruments that resemble dental tools. If a reporter were not present, he said, he would talk to the typewriter, expressing his frustration with the machine’s finicky innards. “I will say some things to the machine. I think it helps, when I let him know how I feel.” But Quezada’s admiration for the machine is clear. The Underwood and its kind “are like Mercedes, like Rolls Royces,” he said. They belong to an era before planned obsolescence, when people did not just replace, but repaired, what they owned…”

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