The brainchild of Oscar-winning actor and collector of vintage
typewriters Tom Hanks, the app, perhaps aptly called Hanx Writer,
replicates the aural and visual sensations of old-fashioned typing.
"In the late 70s's I bought a typewriter - portable enough for world
travel and sturdy enough to survive decades of 10-fingered
beatings," Hanks stated in a note shared in the app.
"I've since acquired many more - each different in design, action
and sound. Each one stamps into paper a permanent trail of
imagination through keys, hammers, cloth and dye," he wrote.
The app allows users to type emails, letters and stories on a
virtual typewriter, accompanied by the sound of clanking keys as
each character appears on the page beneath the type hammer.
Users can also "insert" new pages or pull pages up or down to adjust
where text appears - just as they would with an old-school manual.
After text is written, it can be emailed, printed, and shared from
The free app includes one style of typewriter with two more on offer
featuring different sounds, visuals, ribbon colors and other
features, at $2.99 each.
According to Clinton Mills, co-founder and chief executive officer
of Hitcents, the Bowling Green, Kentucky-based creative agency that
developed the app, the appeal lies in hearing the rhythm of one's
"Whenever you type, the sounds the typewriter makes you feel like
you're composing something special," he said.
Mills said that Hanks was actively involved throughout the creative
process and often came up with solutions to challenges.
"He wanted to create a product that gave the nostalgia of a
typewriter, but also composed well," said Mills, adding that Hanks
"didn't want it to be gimmicky."
The actor uses typewriters daily and has even written several
screenplays with vintage devices, Mills said.
The company plans to continue developing the app and will add more
keyboards to the three now available.
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Several other typewriter apps such as TypeWriter for Android devices
and miTypewriter for Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad replicate the sound
and visuals of a typewriter. They cost between $0.99 and $1.99. The
free Electratype for iPad is a virtual typewriter app for creating
greetings that can be shared via email or social media.
While the app was the top downloaded iPad app in the United States
last week, some question its staying power.
Toronto-based journalist David Hayes, a typewriter collector and
aficionado, is skeptical about the app's staying power.
"I grew up learning how to type on a typewriter. I still have the
one I learned to type on, a Remington No. 2 from 1921, so I've
experienced the romantic clickety-clack of the keys, ringing of
bells and wonderful feeling of the keys as you type, called
'action,'" he explained.
It is that action that cannot be replicated via a touchscreen or
keyboard, Hayes said.
He also noted that while he appreciates the typewriter's iconography
and history, the ones he collects are mainly decor.
"As soon as computers came along, I didn't see the point," Hayes
said. "I consider them 'objets d’art.'"
(Editing by Chris Michaud, G Crosse)
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