Its name refers to the fact that its performance requires a typewriter, which is used on stage: keystrokes, the typewriter bell, and the carriage return mechanism provide a major component of the piece, although Anderson demonstrated that a musical gourd could be used instead of a carriage return. The typewriter is modified so that only two keys work; although many listeners have suspected that stenographers are enlisted to "play" the typewriter, Anderson reported that only professional drummers have sufficient wrist flexibility.
It has been called one of "the wittiest and most clever pieces in the orchestral repertoire".
The piece was featured in the Jerry Lewis film Who's Minding the Store (1963). The Radio 4 satirical programme The News Quiz has adopted the tune as its theme song. The original MS-DOS version of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing! played a portion of the piece on startup. For several decades the tune has also been the opening theme for Israel Radio's weekly news journal, which is broadcast on its "Network B" ("Reshet Bet") every Saturday morning. It was also featured as a title theme for the German comedy TV series Büro, Büro, and in Adam Elliot's 2009 Australian film Mary and Max. It was integrated into the Animaniacs cartoon segment "Temporary Insanity" (Season 1, episode 6, 1993), mimed by Yakko Warner as being typed on a nonexistent typewriter.
- Evening at Pops with Leroy Anderson, transcript of episode of Evening at Pops broadcast in May 1972, at PBS, retrieved June 23 2012
- Leroy Anderson: Master of the Miniature, at National Public Radio, by Pat Dowell, published June 29, 2008, retrieved June 23, 2012
- "Compact Discoveries: #13, Leroy Anderson", by Fred Flaxman, broadcast 2005, transcript posted 2009, retrieved June 23 2012