By Edward Echtle For The North American Post
Two vintage Towa Type Japanese language typewriters stored for decades will start a new life as teaching tools in a Bremerton business.
Originally used by staff at the “North American Post” from the 1960s to the 1990s, these rare machines were rendered obsolete when the newspaper switched to computerized desktop publishing. Since their retirement they’ve languished in storage, gathering dust, forgotten and unused.
Recently, NAP publisher Tomio Moriguchi tasked me, a historian, with finding the machines a new home. As local museums are short on space or already have examples of similar machines in their collections, my search for a new home expanded beyond Seattle.
Enter Paul Lundy and Lisa Knox, husband-and-wife owners of Bremerton Office Machine Company, one of very few businesses still servicing and selling typewriters in the Pacific Northwest. Paul learned the trade as an apprentice under Bob Montgomery, whose Bremerton business dates back to the 1940s when his father began repairing typewriters for the Bremerton Naval Shipyard. After serving in WWII, Montgomery joined his father working in the repair shop, eventually taking over the business.
In 2014, Lundy sought out Montgomery after seeing him featured in a “Seattle Times” profile. Their friendship grew into a business partnership and eventually led to Lundy’s acquisition of the business. Montgomery remained active in the shop until he passed in 2018 at the age of 96.
Paul Lundy is pleased to become the new caretaker of these historic typewriters.
“It’s rare to have the whole history of a machine,” he said. He’s also impressed at their completeness. The Towa machines work by picking up a single character from a grid of hundreds, striking the paper, and setting it back in the correct spot.
“The trays of type are usually empty,” he said. “They often got dumped.”
Bremerton Office Machine Company will keep at least one of the units as a display piece in its museum. Their collection of typewriters also serves as a reference “library,” allowing anyone to examine complete machines in order to repair incomplete or damaged ones that come their way.
Their office, repair shop and small museum are housed, appropriately enough, in a 1940s-vintage building in Bremerton’s historic downtown. The collection is open for viewing by appointment.
Bremerton Office Machine Co.
245 4th St # 503
Bremerton, WA 98337
(360) 373-6330, Info: typespec.com
The Japanese typewriters were used for preparing both newspaper copy and everyday office correspondence from the at least early 1980s to late 1990s, according to past NAP editor Akiko Kusunose.
Typewritten articles were pasted onto white cardboard-backed page layouts. At the printer, the layouts were photographed to make the printed newspaper in a largely forgotten process termed “offset printing.”