A: With the Y2K bug looming on the horizon, dusting off the old Underwood might not be such a bad idea, especially if you don't want to spend a groggy New Year's Day trying to pry your work from your hard drive. Luckily, there are several Manhattan shops that still retune, repair, and even sell these still-indispensable machines. Osner Business Machines (393 Amsterdam Avenue, near 79th Street; 873-8734) has been in the business of keeping typewriters typing since 1941 and offers estimates for only $10 (credited toward any repair), with a basic overhaul running around $100. You can also take satisfaction in the esteemed company you'll keep: Osner's loyal patrons include novelists Tom Wolfe (Underwood 1966) and Philip Roth (IBM Selectric) as well as playwright David Mamet (Olympia Manual Portable).
Tytell Typewriter Company (116 Fulton Street; 233-5333) offers free estimates for typewriter repair, and 85-year-old owner Martin Tytell has yet to meet a machine he could not fix. Tytell, who specializes in building custom-made typewriters in any of 145 language sets, has clients ranging from veteran reporters to the Vatican. Maintenance (lubrication and cleaning) runs around $85, and a complete overhaul -- including any replaced parts -- costs $350.