By Margaret Kalalian
Philly Typewriter’s Bryan Kravitz spurred the resurgence in vintage typewriters here with his extensive skill in typewriter repair. Customers literally fly to Philadelphia just to buy a typewriter restored by him at his 1735 East Passyunk Avenue shop.
Now, he’s helping Philadelphians learn all about typewriters through “The Writing Instrument: Typewriter Origins,” a lecture series at the Parkway Central Library. Eight lectures to be presented by Kravitz are scheduled from November 2022 beginning with The Writing Instrument: Typewriter Origins and ending in August 2023 with Philly Typewriter: The Age of Restoration and Preservation. The free lectures are from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and you must register in advance.
“Businesses still need typewriters for forms and letters, and writers want typewriters, especially IBM Selectrics,” Kravitz explains as the reason typewriters are in demand. “Typewriters also can help young children to write,” he believes.
After learning typewriter repair in trade school during the 1970s, Kravitz devoted three years to the iconic IBM Selectric. The typewriter of choice for business, it has close to 2,500 parts.
With the addition of a new shop to fabricate typewriter platens, Philly Typewriter technicians can rebuild typewriters as accurately as the day they were manufactured.
Kravitz is so devoted to typewriters that in 2018 he created the Philadelphia Public Typewriter Program. It places vintage, rare, fully working typewriters in hundreds of locations in the Philadelphia area to enable people of all generations and diversities to connect with typewriters. Participants can host a public typewriter, donate unwanted typewriters, and take a class and restore a typewriter for the program.
Philly Typewriter repairs most manufacturer’s typewriters and offers a vast selection of typewriters for sale. The restored machines include Pre-War desktops and portables, European portables, mid-century and late-era American portables, electrics and the highly sought after IBM Selectric.
2022 – 2023 Lecture Series Schedule
- November 30 – The Writing Instrument: Typewriter Origins
- January 18 – Typewriter Cause & Effect
- February 15 – The Typewriter in the Workplace
- March 15 – Innovations & Standardization of the Typewriter
- April 19 – The Personal Life of the Typewriter
- May 17 – IBM & The Rise of the Selectric
- June 21 – The Typewriter Revolution of Today
- August 18 – Philly Typewriter: The Age of Restoration & Preservation
*Lectures are free, but you must register in advance.