Thursday, March 21, 2019

Alabama Typewriter Company

I recently passed by this building just off the UAB campus near the Fish Market Restaurant on 6th Avenue South. The place appears empty and forlorn; I think the venerable Alabama Typewriter Company has finally closed.

Let's investigate....

Here's the store front as it looked on March 3. Compare that to this Google Street View from February 2017. The website advertised on the business next door, is no longer active, either. According to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, that site has been inactive since 2006. 

Billy Ray Hagood in his shop ca. 2017

Source: Jonathan Krohn for the Trussville Tribune via BhamWiki

According to an April 2011 profile, Mr. Hagood bought the shop at this location in 1986. That profile on noted, "Founded as a Victor Adding Machine Co. branch in 1922, the typewriter repair shop took on its current name in the 1930s or '40s, though Hagood doesn't know exactly when."

The BhamWiki entry expands on that history: "The business was founded as a local office of the Victor Adding Machine Company in 1922 and became independent in the 1930s or 1940s. In the 1950s and 1960s it was owned by W. R. Hudson and located at 1821 5th Avenue North."

On September 1, 2017, a truck crashed into the front of the business. Hagood was not injured, but spent two hours trapped inside until debris was cleared for him to leave. In a WVTM-TV report, Hagood said the event might be the "end of an era." You can read more about the incident and see some dramatic photos here

Perhaps the business never reopened. There is a Facebook page, but the most recent entry is December 19, 2013. The phone number there and other places on the web is out of service; dial 205-322-8691 and you get that disembodied voice telling you "The number has been disconnected or is no longer in service".

The following two entries and the ad are taken from the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages telephone directory. As you can see, the information for the Victor Adding Machine Company and the Alabama Typewriter Company are the same. I included the ad just for fun. 

Additional material follows the ad. Feel free to leave your memories of this business or typewriters in the comments. 

This extract from the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages shows the Alabama Typewriter Company with the same address as the Victor Adding Machine Company shown below and with an additional phone number. You can see that address on Google Maps.

This extract from the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages shows the Victor Adding Machine Company at 1923 5th Avenue North.

This advertisement appears in the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages in the "Typewriters" section.

This particular typewriter has been on display in recent years at the Helena Depot Deli & Grill. The Bessemer Hall of History has a typewriter used by Adolf Hitler. Typewriters can still be found at flea markets and antique and consignment shops. You can read a history of typewriters here.

One of the world's best known collectors of typewriters is actor Tom Hanks. The short stories in his 2017 book were inspired by his collection.

You can read a profile of Stanley Adelman, "New York's patron saint of typewriters" here.

And then there is the Boston Typewriter Orchestra...

Finally, here I am in my office in Draughon Library at Auburn University in the 1970's, pounding away on an IBM Selectric.   


  1. I purchased a ribbon from Alabama Typewriter Company in the early 1990's. I had purchased an old Smith Corona Silent Secretarial at a auction and I wanted it functional. They were the only place I could find one. I still have the typewriter.

  2. I trained on a section in the 70 s is there a local repair shop in Birmingham that can fix my IBM sectric ll