Wednesday, October 17, 2018

There will be no typewriter emoji

A few years ago I kvetched about the lack of a typewriter emoji and even started a letter-writing campaign.

Well, there is a formal and elaborate process for requesting a new emoji. And since nobody else seemed to be doing it, I sat down last summer and created a proposal that I sent to the emoji subcommittee of the Unicode Technical Committee.

I have now received a response:

Thank you again for your proposal. The emoji subcommittee has reviewed it, and has decided to decline the addition of "typewriter". The statistics do not seem to justify the addition. The "office" category of emoji is already well represented and of lower usage than many other emoji. The "keyboard" emoji is also very close to this. ( )

For a list of frequently asked questions about emoji submissions, please see:

I can't say I'm surprised, but it is disappointing. I think that unless the glorious Insurgency makes surprising strides, there will be no typewriter emoji. That's not impossible—look at the resurgence of vinyl—but I am not holding my breath. (And by the way, there's still no vinyl record emoji either!)

Here is my failed proposal.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Typewriter Revolution in Auburn, CA, Oct. 27

I have several big events coming up. Next weekend is Herman Price's yearly Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Rendezvous in West Virginia. On October 27, I'll be in Auburn, California. And on November 3 there's a type-in at On Paper in Columbus, Ohio.

The Auburn event is happening at the Auburn State Theater, 985 Lincoln Way in Auburn (near Sacramento). It's the brainchild of Gary Moffat, who welcomes questions at—I guess he types 50 words per minute!

Starting at 4 pm, there will be an exhibit of over 50 vintage typewriters. You can try many of them, and possibly win one by participating in a typing test and a 10-word story contest. A few will be for sale.

At 6 pm, I'll be interviewed by Gary and local TV news anchor Edie Lambert.

The typosphere's favorite cult film, California Typewriter, follows at 7.

Tickets can be purchased here for $25.

Watch this brief video for Gary Moffat's personal invitation to the event:

And here is the Facebook page for the event.

I hope to meet some of my readers there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Siamese twin typewriters

In my recent series on little-known typewriters I included this photo of a double IBM unit.

Such machines were used when one set of characters was not enough. Maybe the typist needed two different alphabets, or needed to insert a wide variety of symbols in a text. Pulling the paper out and inserting it in a separate typewriter was not a good option, because the text would almost surely be misaligned. The solution was this Siamese twin arrangement.

IBM was not the only company to create such devices. Frans van de Rivière just alerted me to this dual Optima which is currently for sale in Germany.

The British company Imperial also offered "dual-unit typewriters."

Of course, such devices were made obsolete by the Selectric and later daisywheel typewriters, which allowed you to swap the type element.

In fact, as typewriter collectors know, many early typewriters had interchangeable type elements, too. For example, the elusive Blickensderfer Electric. (This one was sold by Auction Team Breker in 2007.)

Another good solution to printing individual special symbols was Smith-Corona's Changeable Type system.

Want to type an emoticon? Smith-Corona's got you covered:

Brother offered a comparable system, Dial-A-Type (image source: Davis Typewriter Works).

Finally, I'll mention the Typit system, invented by Robert Twyford. More information in Klaus Brandt's story on p. 12 of ETCetera no. 99.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

Guest post: Top ways to promote the Typewriter Insurgency

Thanks to Linda Smith for this guest post that's full of great ideas!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Street typists around the world

Just a few examples of street typists I've seen on Instagram recently:

Party Poet in Fort Worth, Texas:

Shannon Monaghan at Burning Man ...

... and in Portland, Oregon:

Ary Katz in Los Angeles (photo by Brady Leffler)

Zachery Aaron Quale in New Orleans:

Pablo Urizal in Madrid:

Richa Pandey in Bangalore:

Try it where you live!

Monday, September 10, 2018

The takeaways

Congratulations to ZetiX for guessing the four winners from Friday's typewriter safari!

1. This Adler J4 was an obvious choice at just $29.99. It's an uncommon and well-made portable with interesting styling (reminiscent of its notorious big brother from "The Shining").

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy:

And—bonus!—this J4 has a beautiful typeface known as Esquire (Rodrian 88) (thank you, Ted Munk):

2. I couldn't resist the Underwood Master, on sale for $40. I'm fond of this somewhat ridiculous attempt to streamline the boxy Underwood, and I'd been thinking that if I found one in nice shape at a good price, I might pick it up. Notice that this one even has a rare ribbon cover on the left spool.

It's not quite a giant, but it is a very beefy writing machine. It was made one year after the New York World's Fair.

Here's what it looks like after extensive cleaning and adjusting. I had to replace one foot and part of the backspacing mechanism. I found the second ribbon cover languishing in the innards of the typewriter!

3 and 4: These two Smith-Corona Classic 12s also came home with me.

Why? Look closely:

The scale on this 12-inch carriage only has markings up to 66 characters. And ...

... notice the lack of a red ribbon option.

Yes, these are magnatype machines, 6 characters per inch.

For $29 apiece, this purchase was a no-brainer.

The two keyboards are not identical: notice that the first keyboard below includes the usual symbols #, %, and &, but the second one replaces them with +, ÷, and =.

Both typewriters include this peculiar key:

Both typewriters actually print the same characters, including + ÷ =. One of the typewriters has an old ribbon, but I think the typeface is identical.

The weird character is an em dash (–), as opposed to an en dash or hyphen (-). The em is a little longer, and also prints a little higher on the page: see the ems and ens between the two typing samples above. I'm really not sure why you'd need both kinds of dashes, but I guess the em looks better as a minus sign.

The typeface is similar to Speech-Riter (another grateful tip o' the typebar to Rev. Munk). However, note that the a and 4 are obviously different from Speech-Riter, and there are other, more subtle differences. Sight Saver isn't a match, either.

According to information scratched into the back of one of these typewriters, it belonged to a fabric supplier in St. Louis. Now both of them are going to WordPlay, either for kids to use or for sale to the public.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Mechanographical melody motivates me

Something was calling me to the antique mall on Friday morning ... some faint mechanographical melody.

And yes! It was a worthwhile trip. Can you guess which 4 typewriters I came home with? You may need to click on some photos to see the price tags or other significant details. In my next post, I'll reveal the answer and show you something really neat.