In a first-​​of-​​its-​​kind exhibit that con­jures up cap­ti­vating tales of writing and his­tory, 14 iconic type­writers once owned by John Lennon, Ernest Hem­ingway, Theodore Kaczynski, and other celebri­ties and notable 20th-​​century fig­ures are now on dis­play at Northeastern’s Gallery 360. Over the years, the fin­gers of such visionary writers, Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties, and provoca­tive news­makers have graced these keys to type let­ters, song lyrics, screen­plays, and more.

The exhibit, called “Celebrity Type” and run­ning through Sept. 25, marks the East Coast pre­miere of the machines from col­lector Steven Sobo­roff, a Los Angeles civic and busi­ness leader. Located in Ell Hall, Gallery 360 is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sat­urday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., during which time vis­i­tors can view and even touch the type­writers. Sobo­roff will attend the exhibit’s opening recep­tion, which is sched­uled for Thursday, Sept. 5 from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Steven Soboroff

Steven Sobo­roff

In today’s dig­i­tally con­nected world, the pop­u­larity of tablets and smart­phones con­tinues to soar. But these sleek and resourceful devices don’t transmit the charm and his­tor­ical meaning of the typewriter—the oldest of which dis­played in the exhibit dates back nearly 90 years.

Soboroff’s ado­ra­tion for the type­writer con­tinues to grow. Mobile devices, he acknowl­edged, “make life more effi­cient, faster, and easier to mul­ti­task.” Yet there’s an impor­tant lesson to be learned from an era when type­writers were para­mount. “You didn’t have the ability to cut, paste, and delete like you can today on a com­puter,” he said. “So you were forced to slow down and think.”

Sobo­roff acquired his first type­writer in 2004 in New York City’s Sotheby’s auc­tion room. He’d just sold a Sandy Koufax glove that the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher had worn while throwing a no-​​hitter in 1963. The item sold for higher than expected, and the next item up on the block was a type­writer used by Pulitzer Prize-​​winning sports jour­nalist Jim Murray. An immense fan of Murray, Sobo­roff outbid the Dodgers and The Los Angeles Times for the item.

Sobo­roff has since amassed an impres­sive col­lec­tion of rare pieces pre­vi­ously owned by the likes of acclaimed writers Ray Brad­bury, John Updike, and Ten­nessee Williams and Hol­ly­wood icons Orson Welles and Julie Andrews. Other type­writers on dis­play at Gallery 360 include those once owned by Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio, long­time 60 Min­utes com­men­tator Andy Rooney, and the con­tro­ver­sial Jack Kevorkian.

What makes an item worthy of his pur­suit? Sobo­roff has a simple rule of thumb. “It’s got to be someone who knocks your socks off,” he said.

Fourteen iconic typewriters once owned by John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Kaczynski, and other celebrities and notable 20th-century figures are now on display at Gallery 360. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Four­teen iconic type­writers once owned by John Lennon, Ernest Hem­ingway, Theodore Kaczynski, and other celebri­ties and notable 20th-​​century fig­ures are now on dis­play at Gallery 360. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Each piece in his col­lec­tion has a rich and unique story, he explained. One played a promi­nent role in the Barbra Streisand-​​Robert Red­ford film The Way We Were. He said the “creepiest” type­writer he owns is that of Kaczynski, the man known as the “Unabomber”; the machine was one of three con­fis­cated by the FBI during a raid of Kaczynski’s Mon­tana cabin in 1996.

These are the sto­ries that Sobo­roff, whose daughter attends North­eastern, is eager to share with vis­i­tors at the Sept. 5 opening reception—an event that will also fea­ture a live per­for­mance by the Boston Type­writer Orchestra.

Visit the Gallery 360 Face­book page for more information.