Friday, June 29, 2012

Olympian brainstorm no. 2: typing as ascetic practice

Here's the second brainstorm that developed on my Olympia SF this Wednesday.

These "brainstorms" are explorations of an idea. The idea isn't necessarily something I believe, and it certainly isn't necessarily true, but I want to see where it goes. The typewriter helps by keeping me moving forward: no editing, no take-backs. (In contrast, this word-processed paragraph has gone through several fussy revisions.) So the idea gets blurted out and developed. Self-criticism can wait for another day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Olympian brainstorm no. 1: meaning as friction

Why did I pack an Olympia SF and a MacBook Pro to bring to a dance competition in Tennessee, where my daughter is performing in five numbers? So that at idle moments I could take the time to reflect via typewriter, and share the results with the typosphere. (I've also typed up a couple of Insurgency cards, for those special occasions.) Here's the first brainstorm, for whatever it's worth; the next will come online in a couple of days.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


A year ago I showed readers my new Woodstock Electrite, which I thought I couldn't get to work.

It turned out that even though the motor says DC, it is a universal motor. When I plugged it into AC power with a good new cord, the typewriter sprang to life! Then I promptly busted it. (Expert tip: do not stick your finger in front of the moving typebars of an Electrite. Not only will it hurt your finger, but you can break the teeth on a crucial gear.)

Recently I bought a replacement motor, taken from an Electrite that failed to sell on eBay. It was different: various features had been changed on this newer motor, generally for the better. This motor came sans wiring. I'll spare you the details, but I ended up connecting the electric heart of the old motor to the gear assembly of the new one, lubricated with new grease. Now the typewriter can type again. In fact, it types powerfully enough to punch holes in the paper. It would make 10 copies if you needed them.

For Typewriter Day, I'd like to show you this contraption in action.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Survey results

Hi everyone,

Here are the results so far of my survey on whether I should turn the Purple Prose Producer into a USB typewriter.

YES!  18 votes, 43.9%

NO! 22 votes, 53.7%

I don't know: 1 vote, 2.4%.

use a crappy machine for that!
If you feel like doing so, of course you should! You can always burn the result :p
Go for it, Richard! Dan NM
Got to say, to what problem would a USB typewriter be a solution for?
It doesn't meet the nature of the typewriter at all.
I want very much to have a USB typewriter, though like you my soldering skills are not there yet. If you do attempt, please let do post pics!
Such a marvel never have to be put onto the digital world. After the improvement that you did on this typewriter, surely even your grandsons will be able to use it. Josep Gonzalez - Barcelona (Spain)
After all that work it will take, you will have wanted to have done it to a typewriter you love.
I am not a fan of USB conversion but in the case of your purple pimped torpedo, it fits. Yes!
I say pimp it, techno style. But there is a catch: once sucessful, you should take it to a local Maker Faire along with non-USB machines to hook the nerd masses.
it depends on whether it's suitable. Mine (a Remette) has the electronics pushing the ribbon vibrator up and I can't see the line of type.
Even though that would make this one a superpowered typewriter, and a very practical one at that, I think that wouldn't hold true to the charm of a typewriter: free from any sort of tethers, the typewriter in its purest form is a self-contained machine, free from any sort of connection.
Converting it yourself should be great fun and with a USB typewirter you stilll get full typewriter functionality when it is not connected to your PC (or Mac)
I'd use a simple, plain Jane Olivetti or a plastic case Olympia for that purpose, and not a beautiful, fully personalized and functional machine like the Turbo Purple Prose Producer.
The Turbo Purple Prose Producer is about 50 years old. How long will USB last?
Yes, but not the PPP. That's distinctive enough as it is, and it's "hot rod" appearance is in perfect juxtaposition to its manual state. I'd be interested in a Typospherean's view on using and living with a USB Typewriter but would suggest it be a new, separate project.

Evidently, there are plenty of strong opinions on both sides of this question (more reactions were posted as replies to the post where you can find the survey, and you are still able to vote there or leave more comments).

So far the nays have it, although not overwhelmingly. For the moment, at least, I won't be USB-izing this typewriter.

I had a fine time in Spain and Italy, including meetings with other typewriter collectors, and I hope to share some of my experiences here when time permits -- I have plenty to catch up on, including moving 100+typewriters out of my office so the building can be renovated. A huge job!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Typewriting and tattooing

Click here to read a perceptive term paper written by a student in my course this spring that explores the parallels between typewriting and tattoos. It's published here anonymously with permission of the author.

You can find lots of typewriter tattoos on Google Images. Here's just one example.