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Typewriters' clickety-clack not yet silent
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TYPEWRITER

Typewriters' clickety-clack not yet silent

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RACINE COUNTY — Lorna George was working in her office one day and her ears perked up when she heard the familiar pecking noise.

“What? Someone has a typewriter?” said George, the county executive’s chief of staff who previously worked in the county Human Services Department.

Despite today’s advanced technology, many typewriters have not yet been laid to rest.

In the county clerk’s office they are used for typing labels for some packages. In the county corporation counsel’s office they are used for some legal paperwork, and in the register of deeds office they are used for typing some page numbers and for certain parcel documents.

For minor things, “It’s quick,” said Register of Deeds Tyson Fettes. Even though it’s old equipment, he said, “it can be an efficient use of technology.”

Similarly, it’s what the county medical examiner’s office has been using for years to fill in information on death certificates.

At the beginning of September, the state launched a program which allows medical examiners to fill out death certificates online, Racine County Medical Examiner Michael Payne said. With the new system, Payne said the days are numbered for the typewriter in his office.

But he is not yet ready to pronounce it dead or bring it down to the courthouse’s basement, where other typewriters have been laid to rest.

“We’re going to probably keep it,” Payne said. “Just in case.”

While new technology has reduced the need for typewriters, Dan Gallo, 57, who owns Acme Office Equipment in Union Grove, still gets three to four calls per week for typewriter repairs.

Typewriters used to be Acme’s sole business; they had hundreds of service contracts throughout the county, said Gallo, who started repairing typewriters when he was 12 under his father’s guidance.

When computers became the norm, typewriter repairs dwindled and over the years the business has been dominated by fixing fax machines, printers and copy machines.

But over the past couple years, the calls have started to pick up, with one customer recently coming from the Appleton area for a repair.

Typewriter repair is not enough to making a living on, Gallo said, but “they are making a comeback.”

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