Saturday, September 24, 2016

An IBM Executive & Albert Borgmann

I was recently in Chicago for a few days for a conference, and on the way I passed through a suburb where someone had advertised this 1955 IBM Executive for $40 on Craigslist. It's in near-perfect condition.

I can't say the typewriter is a beauty, but its typeface is:

More information on IBM typefaces can be found on Ted Munk's site. Here are some proportional typefaces. Mine is type mark PO.

Meanwhile, I'm teaching a philosophy of technology course in which we are reading Albert Borgmann's 1984 book Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. His basic idea is that the typical technological pattern makes commodities easily available while obscuring the underlying mechanism that delivers the commodities; this tends to encourage a consumerist lifestyle that is alienated from nature, craft, and other people. Disturbingly, he argues that liberal democracy tends toward this superficial, technological way of life because in order to maximize freedom, we have to dissolve our ties to more substantial, committed ways of relating to society and to things. This line of thought inspired the following ditty.

The following thought, which I copied on my MBM (Consul), seems especially appropriate to typewriters.


  1. oooh, nice rescue! The concept applies to nearly anything that is pre-owned, lacking the ephemeral shine of new-ness.

  2. Love the typeface on your new find.

  3. Ted: "The ephemeral shine of new-ness": Wonderful!

    Richard: Your thoughts remind me why I like darkroom photography, keeping my hands close to the craft.

  4. Very nice! How did you get it home?

    1. I was driving. (No way I could carry this thing onto a plane!)