Amherst Typewriter and Computer: Reflections Through Time and Today

The world is all about change, evolution, and learning. Life can throw you curveballs and take you in many different directions, but it is always good to learn these lessons from someone who has experienced it and has adapted to everything that has been thrown at them.

Robert Green owns a small shop in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is called Amherst typewriter and Computer, and just as the name suggests he services these machines out of his small shop on the main street. It is nestled in amongst restaurants and bars, which in the 5 college area, are very popular. At first, my thought was that this shop seemed interesting, because it is not every day that you see an assortment of typewriters sitting on the street in front of a store window that holds even more old treasures such as apple monitors from the 80’s and typewriters that were manufactured before most of the students in the area’s parents were even in school.

I know that myself and many others have been curious about the shop before, especially because not many people use typewriters anymore, and most computer repairs are done by large companies in this day and age.

But when I sat down with Mr. Green, I was truly surprised. His story is one of disappointment, perseverance, hard work, and a love for meeting and helping people. A friendly face and some hard work goes a long way, and Robert Green is a perfect example of this.

He has been in business since 1976 and has been in the town of Amherst for all of those years. But at the beginning, things were very different.

But it was not always his goal to start a shop in Amherst. Although, his story, even though it was a long time ago it is reflective of what many students are going through now. He simply needed to make money, and after finding himself in a rough spot, he just did what he needed to do.

You need to have experience to get a job, but you need a job to gain experience… sounds like a familiar story to most of us workers that are just trying to enter ANY field…

And he got his first place. From there on, Robert moved from place to place, before settling where he is now. But through all of this, he adapted to what was going on around him. With no business experience and knowledge of Marketing, he relied on the need that his customers had to have their machines fixed, and his excellent service that he provided.

The town was very different, and it was noticeable. But it may not be so obvious to people that live and learn in thee area today.

But through all of the changes, Amherst Typewriter and computer has stuck around. The center of Amherst does have its fair share of chain stores as well as private, mom and pop shops, but the stores that stick around for so long have something special. Mr. Green explains that the way that he has stuck around was through his ability to adapt to today’s world. This is something that many people are struggling with, and it is something that should be kept in mind for any student th  at is about to move on into the real world. Adaptation is key, but still stick with what you are good at.

But aside from the life lesion of adaptation and perseverance, What Mr. Green really made me realize that there is a disconnect between people because of the technology that we use today. It takes a lot more brain-power to use a typewriter than a word processor.

This is something that made me realize everything that I take for granted. Ask someone who was in school before the late 80’s and they will tell you all about how much harder it was to write a paper without a computer. I know how many nights that I have been huddled in the library for hours trying to finish a paper, but take away my computer, and those hours turn into days.

But even though many of the students at 5 colleges now have never seen a typewriter, Mr. Green explains that seeing these young adults interacting with the machine for their first time is a great joy for him. It shows how everyone is curious, and Green explains that it can even bring out talent that might have been dormant before. But no matter who is using it, what their experiences are, or where they come from, most are still curious.


Street Level Sounds are produced by New England Public Radio interns as part of AudioFiles. The interviews, anecdotes, and oral histories recorded for Street Level Sounds are designed to build a public library of the western New England experience, and are not intended as news content, or endorsements by NEPR’s staff or Board. For more information on Street Level Sounds, contact AudioFiles producer, Peter Chilton.

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