Thursday, March 28, 2013

SG1 at work

(If you want to use a carbon ribbon in your own SG1, you may need to alter the rate of ribbon advance. Here's how.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Typewriter review: Royal Scrittore II

Note: This is one of the most popular pages on my blog. Evidently, people are curious about the Scrittore II. Read on ... but I don't think you'll be impressed with it.

For a rundown of typewriters I recommend in various categories, see Chapter 3, "Choose Your Weapon," in my book The Typewriter Revolution.

You can download the user's manual for the Scrittore II here.

—Richard Polt

The Generation 3000

Robert Messenger identifies the designer as Reiner Kieling. Here is the 1990 patent; the shape on the sides is similar to the Scrittore II, but the patent is for a larger typewriter body.

The Phoenix Typewriter

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Meet Frank and Larry

For appropriate musical accompaniment to this post, play this video while reading.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Going public (Part 4)

The final installment in my display at the Xavier University library is intended to introduce viewers to modern portables, unusual keyboards and typefaces, and last but not least, pretty colors.

Corona Four (USA, 1928): The successor to the Corona 3, which had a folding carriage, this model has a four-row keyboard and non-folding carriage but is still quite compact. Corona merged with L.C. Smith, a maker of office typewriters, to form Smith-Corona in 1926. The company manufactured typewriters into the twenty-first century, but today produces only thermal labels and tape.

Remington Noiseless Portable (USA, 1933): “Noiseless” typewriters, which soften the impact of the typebars against the platen, were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. This two-tone green model was a deluxe version that sold in small numbers during the Depression.

Groma Kolibri (East Germany, ca. 1960): The Kolibri (“Hummingbird”) is a well-made East German ultraportable. This one has a Greek keyboard and is also capable of typing in capital Roman letters. A Groma Kolibri plays a prominent role in the 2006 film “The Lives of Others.”

Merz no. 2 (Germany, ca. 1927): This portable from a smaller German manufacturer features a Bulgarian keyboard.

Olivetti MP1 (Italy, 1938): The leading Italian typewriter manufacturer, Olivetti was known for its innovative styling. Its first portable model is a good example of Art Deco design.

Adler Favorit no. 2 (Germany, 1939): This large portable uses a thrust-action system in which typebars slide horizontally to the platen. [When I installed this typewriter I realized it was a poor choice. It is hard to appreciate on a top shelf with poor lighting. No going back, though -- my selections had to be listed in advance so they could be insured specifically by make, model, and serial number. If I could pick a new one it might be the little Junior 58 from Spain.]

Rooy portable (France, 1953): This ingenious, ultrathin “laptop” typewriter is permanently attached to a case that serves as a base when the machine is in use.

Continental (East Germany, ca. 1955): Usually labeled Erika 10, this socialist product was named Continental when it was sold with an Arabic keyboard. In order to write Arabic, the machine types from right to left and uses proportional spacing.

Olivetti Graphika (Italy, 1958): This machine employs proportional spacing, assigning different widths to different characters (an M takes up more width than an i, for example). A special typeface was created for it by designer A. M. Cassandre. Relatively slow and difficult to use, the Graphika was not a market success.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Going public (Part 3)

Installment no. 3 of my public display at the Xavier University library:

Hammond no. 1 (USA, ca. 1889): This typewriter invented by James B. Hammond uses an interchangeable swinging sector and a hammer that hits the paper from behind. This model 1 is largely encased in wood. The machine was available either with a two-row, curved “Ideal” keyboard or with a three-row QWERTY keyboard.

Hammond Folding Multiplex (USA, 1923): While Hammond was never the leader among typewriter manufacturers, the company had a solid customer base. This portable Hammond can hold two type shuttles at once. Its keyboard folds up for compactness when it is put in its carrying case.

Varityper (USA, ca. 1937): This successor to the Hammond is an electric typewriter that uses a carbon-paper ribbon. More elaborate Varityper models were capable of justifying the right margin and typing proportionally (assigning different widths to different characters). Varitypers built on the Hammond system were made into the 1970s, and were often used by small publishers to lay out text for photo offset printing. One Arizona printer is still using Varitypers today.

Emerson (USA, ca. 1910): The Emerson uses a unique system, with typebars swinging in toward the center from the sides. Made in Woodstock, Illinois, it was modestly successful.

Underwood no. 5 (USA, 1925): The Underwood is the most influential design in typewriter history; many manufacturers imitated this system, which uses typebars that strike the front of the platen, a four-row QWERTY keyboard with single shift, and an ink ribbon. The no. 5, with over three million machines made from 1900 to 1933, is the most famous Underwood model.

Underwood Portable (USA, 1929): In 1919 Underwood introduced a three-row portable typewriter that embodied the company’s high standards of quality. This example with green marble paint is among the last made before this model was replaced by a larger, four-row design.

Woodstock Electrite (USA, ca. 1925): The Woodstock, successor to the Emerson, used an Underwood-style design and was quite successful. The Electrite model used a spinning metal shaft to propel typebars to the platen; shift and carriage return were still manually controlled. This model sold in small numbers, and electric typewriters were not adopted widely until the 1950s.