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Camas teen turns love for typewriters into a business

Benjamin Hromodka, 15, buys, sells and repairs typewriters out of his family's home. He hopes his love for the antiques will spark new interest in others.

CAMAS, Wash. — The parents of a Camas teenager don't have to worry about prying the phone out of his hands. That’s because he spends his spare time on typewriters. No scrolling, but plenty of tinkering and he recently turned his hobby into a business.

Last year, 15-year-old Benjamin Hromodka launched Camas Typewriter Co. He runs the business out of his family’s home, giving what some may call relics rebirth. He also buys, restores and sells typewriters.

“It's almost ironic in a sense,” Hromodka said. “Most typewriter repairmen are older and they learned how to type on typewriters… It seems like I was born in the wrong generation.”

The Camas High School sophomore still does most of his homework on a laptop but said if he can use a typewriter he will. He believes they spark a unique type of creativity.

“You think about the past of a typewriter, like, where has this come from? Who used it and why?” Hromodka said. “That gives you a lot of ideas to write.”

Hromodka has 22 typewriters in his collection but it all started with one: A 1937 Royal Model O. His father gave it to him when he was 6 years old.

“I didn't know what I was starting,” said Hromodka’s dad, Ted Hromodka. “I was just getting him something to play with. He really latched onto it.”

To keep his fleet of typewriters in good repair, Hromodka taught himself how to fix them, which he said can be challenging.

“A typewriter can have over 3,000 moving parts and so I always think of it as a chain reaction,” Hromodka said. “If one thing goes wrong, a lot of others can break, too.”

Despite the challenges, Hromodka said he stands by his craft.

“A lot of people are like, why do you invest into these things? They're outdated,” Hromodka said. “While they are outdated, there's a lot of benefits to using a typewriter still. I believe that so I don't really listen to them.”

It’s also worth mentioning that most old typewriters don’t have a delete button, forcing people to really think before they write.

“It's generally advised to get it right the first time,” Hromodka said.

Quite a concept for these modern times.

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