Those who long for the days when Hem­ingway would eke out novels at his desk with the aid of a cigar and whiskey should flock to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, where a col­lec­tion of type­writers belonging to famous writers is cur­rently on dis­play at the 360 Gallery.

The exhi­bi­tion includes machines for­merly belonging to John Lennon and Ernest Hem­ingway and was donated by a North­eastern parent, Steve Sobo­roff. Says Sobo­roff about his col­lec­tion, “The idea that geniuses sat there and accom­plished what they accom­plished on these type­writers… it gives me the chills.” Invented in the 1860s, the type­writer became among the first means by which the gen­eral public could quickly draft doc­u­ments and became com­mon­place from pro­fes­sional set­tings to the home. With the tran­si­tion to com­puter word pro­cessing in the 1970s and 1980s, the type­writer became a bygone relic of a sharply receding past.

In the wake of dig­ital inter­face, the type­writer has become a fetish object. Ernest Hemingway’s Haldawas up for auc­tion ear­lier this summer and Jack Kerouac’s Hermes 3000 was sold by Christie’s for $25,000. A few years ear­lier, Cormac McCarthy’s was also sold by Christie’s to an unnamed col­lector for a stag­gering $254,500. Per­haps for the col­lec­tors, the sticker price is mere pit­tance com­pared to the inspi­ra­tion these machines invoke, each rusty key offering sage council from its pre­vious owner.

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