Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Revolution in the mailbox: Harpsiwriter

Hans Boersma provides a followup to his letter of the other day.

The dactilófono, created by Les Luthiers


  1. I enjoyed rocking out to Rameau this morning.

    I am fascinated and horrified by the dactilófono created by Les Luthiers. It appears to be made from an Old Weirdy, an American Writing Machine Century 10. I should contact Les Luthiers to find out whether they kept the paper table from the Century 10 when they made their modifications. My Century 10 is missing its paper table and I am having a heck of a time finding a replacement on Amazon. :) I encourage Hans to use a more common typewriter for his own project.

    1. I hadn't noticed that the dactilófono has only three banks of keys. On this video (where you can also hear the instrument being played) they call it an Underwood, and until now I had naively taken their word for it. (Erratum #1 in my book!) That rounded frame isn't from an Underwood, and it would be consistent with a Century 10, although I'm not sure about a positive ID yet.

    2. I'm pretty sure it's a Century 10.

      Les Luthiers has a dactilófono photo album:

      Compare this dactilófono photo:
      a photo of my Century 10:

    3. Yep. I am convinced. You have a good eye!

    4. I was interested to read the personal footnote about the "Stasi font" It reminded me that I was more intrigued by the typeface of that big electric typewriter used by Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) in "The Lives of Others" than I was by the Groma Kolibri. Haven't been able to identify it thus far.

  2. Another postscriptum on the so-called Stasi-typeface. On manual typewriters there seems to have been two variants, one more square than the other: see versus The latter, more rounded one is definitely called Kristall and seems to postdate the former, boxier type.

    There were more different sans-serif typefaces available on Robotron electric typewriters, see,0,schriftbilder-der-typenradkassetten,index,0.html.

    The big electric typewriter used by the Stasi-officer in "Das Leben der Anderen" (as seen at ± 30 min, during the birthday party) appears to be fitted with the Kristall typeface. The typewriter is an Robotron/Optima 202 ( Kristall typeface can also be found on may Erika semi-portables (