In 1895 Jacob Guzendorfer, with the help of his family started The Typewritorium Company in downtown San Francisco on Sutter St. It was common in those days to call any retail enterprise an Emporium so it followed that the name Typewriter Emporium was shortened to Typewritorium. The business operated successfully there until the 1906 earthquake which destroyed the building. Undeterred, Mr. Guzendorfer operated from a temporary location on Fillmore Street until the downtown area was partially rebuilt and repaired.
The Typewritorium was incorporated in 1908 and around 1909 was relocated at 225 Montgomery and remained there until the early 1920’s when Mr. Guzendorfer moved to 457 Market Street, where the business remained for 33 years.
During the early 1930’s, an experienced typewriter repair technician named Herman Bickel became the shop foreman for The Typewritorium. Under his tenure, typewriters were being shipped all over the world and this became a major part of the business. At the same time, The Typewritorium started the first “Inspection Service” in the area – the precursor to the Full Service Maintenance Agreements still offered today. In 1947, Herman’s son Ralph came to work for the company as an apprentice mechanic.
In 1959, Mr. Guzendorfer, who was then 88 years old, sold the company to Herman and Ralph Bickel. They appointed a talented repairman – Matt Venezia as a Vice President and stockholder of the company. Herman Bickel remained President of The Typewritorium until his retirement in 1975 when he turned over the reins to his son Ralph. A year later, Ralph’s son Eric came to work at the company representing the 3rd generation of Bickels to work at The Typewritorium. Eric became the President in 1983 upon his father’s retirement.
Eric Bickel presided over the Typewritorium’s transition from manual to electric typewriters and then to the early word processors that predated computers. The business moved to the South of Market area and, in 1990 began doing business as A2Z Business Systems to reflect the company’s move into fax, printer and copier equipment as technology advanced in the office workplace. Not long after the name change, A2Z hired Marc Cimmet as a Sales Representative and promoted him to Sales Manager in 1995.
Marc Cimmet ushered A2Z Business Systems into the digital age offering network ready copiers and multi-function products and widening the service expertise to help customers connect them. In 2002, Marc and his wife, Tawna purchased the business and moved to Brisbane, where it is located today. Although not a direct relative of the Bickels, the two families are related by the marriage of Marc’s sister to Eric’s brother and the family environment is still present.
Typewriters and stand-alone fax are all but gone from the modern office but, in addition to basic networked copier – printers, A2Z offers the latest hi-volume color copier – printers and professional presentation products. The oldest known surviving office equipment company in the United States, The Typewritorium is prepared to continue its fine reputation well into the future by offering quality office products backed by efficient, courteous service.