Monday, October 29, 2018

Extravaganza in Auburn

On the heels of another amazing weekend at Herman's (which has been chronicled in the typosphere here, here, here and here), I flew out to California at the invitation of Gary Moffat, to participate in a big event in the Gold Country.

Auburn is a lovely place:

I should have said mid-19th century ...

Gary Moffat, mastermind:

Edie Lambert, who interviewed me along with Gary, has also interviewed President Obama.

Payson, his Lego typewriter, and his beautifully working Bennett:

The insurgency lives, on Steve's arm!

Effie J. Eisley of Auburn was a typing champion in 1924 ...

... and 94 years later, the winner of the Auburn typing contest brought home a beautiful Underwood, expertly restored by Ole Kehlet of Kehlet Typewriter in Sacramento.

What a night to remember.

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."

Olivetti offered them too.

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.