* Typecast via Olivetti Modelo Portatile 1, Ingegnere Camilo Olivetti (Ico). Serial #20548–1935
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
At exactly this time of the year in 2014,
Richard Polt met up with me in Chicago.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Monday, August 14, 2017
The Olivetti social conscience.
This is yet another very good reason why I am a proud owner of Olivetti typewriters. Olivetti was a business that valued the worker as a human being and not as a mere cog in the assembly line. 9 1/2 months maternity leave with full pay, a pediatric clinic and day care center, after-school activities and summer camps for elementary and high school children of employees, five year technical-training course for high school graduates, housing settlements, a 30,000 volume Olivetti Library for employees and Ivrea residents...
My name is Ton S., I am an Olivetti devotee.
* Typecast via Olivetti Lexikon 80
Shout-out to all who responded to the question Laptop Typewriters: What is the best travel mate? You made the discussion interesting and fun.
Your choices are as follows (in order of comment):
As an addendum, I thought I'd distill our reflections and report them. Caveat: I do not have an advanced degree in Typewriter Studies, I am just one inquisitive "casual collector" enjoying shared insight.
Although all of us appreciate a well-engineered typewriter, the criterion we describe as "typing feel" is the chemistry that forms between the typewriter and the typist; the typewriter itself, no matter how special, is not the sole arbiter of good typing feel. "Feel" is necessarily subjective and personal. I found it interesting that one person's gold standard for typing feel can be another's sub-standard. I've read Peter describing Antares Parva as "flimsy;" Rob considers it "slick."
Richard is partial to the Groma Kolibri feel; in the brief time I typed on it, I wasn't too impressed. Conversely, the L22 feel is pure sophistication for me; Richard doesn't love it. One factor of "feel" would be our respective typing styles. For example, for a fast and furious typer (e.g., Richard), a machine's speed matters, whereas that might be irrelevant for someone who is not a speed demon.
The drill-down, as we know, may go deeper than just typing. Because they represent vintage technology, typewriters trigger memories- of family, friendships, school experiences, travel, etc. -that add layers of meaning to the typing experience. It's no accident that I am an Olivetti fan, Studio 44 was the machine that re-introduced me to typwriters and ushered me into the Typosphere. Miguel mentioned that he has an emotional attachment to Lettera 32.
Then there is the matter of portability, which depends largely on the question of how we travel. I take long walks and use public transportation a lot so poundage does matter to me, while someone who's attached to a car might not care too much about weight. It was interesting to hear from bike-typers who came up with their own notions of portability that are unique to biking. Unlike Peter, it would never occur to me to consider "the handle size of a carrying case so that bungees can thread through them!"
Ted raised the point of the "rough and tumble" of travel, a consideration that led him to choose the rugged and affordable Brother JP-1 over typewriters that may be too pricey or rare for the punishment. Interestingly, Richard did bring a classy Kolibri to London, and Claudia's travel mate of choice is a Gossen Tippa. Price and rarity, of course, are relative.
Another consideration is aesthetics. I, for one, am a strongly visual person, so a typewriter that appeals to my taste doubles the pleasure of my typing experience. I had mentioned that my quibble with the Skyriter is that "it comes in fifty shades of dull grey." Well, Skyriter fan Bill M. couldn't care less about color scheme. Neither would Zephyr fan Vance, who doesn't care about extra features in a post-Zephyr SC model either.
Personally, I find the sheer variety of laptop typewriters still available to us intoxicating, not to mention the equally diverse typing experiences we could still enjoy.
I'll end with a quote from honorary typospherian Tom Hanks. In his recent NYTimes article "I am TOM. I like to TYPE. Hear that?", Hanx imaginatively maps his own encounter with typewriter diversity from the distinct typing sounds of his machines:
Based on the number times it appeared in his "On the road. Typing." entries, Hanx'
travel mate for some time was his
1940s Corona Sterling Silent.
* Image credits: Antares Parva from Typewriter Heaven, L32 from Maschinengeschreiben, Bike from Manual Entry, Backpack from To Type, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth..., Typewriter Trio from Fountain Pens & Typewriters. Tom Hanks pic from Gawker.
* Typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.
Looking back at the Polt collection, the earlier Gromina (right) is also flat and fetching, but I gave it a D for typing feel. Not a pleasant typer.
The same holds true for the French Rooy, which inarguably fits the description "laptop" if we just go by its astonishing flatness and built-in sliding case. You don't buy a Rooy for typing, you buy it for the novelty and coolness factor.
A decent alternative might be one of the Hermes small portables (Baby, Featherweight, Rocket, Empire Aristocrat, etc.). Compact though not as as thin, it will not win a beauty contest against the Kolibri, but it has a passable touch and it weighs less. It is much more affordable. Unfortunately, my long and thin fingers type clumsily on a Hermes Baby.
Image: Vintage Typewriter Shoppe
Two popular alternatives in the U.S. are the Olympia Socialite (Splendid) and the Smith-Corona Skyriter. Typical of Olympia, the former looks neat and types pleasantly, although I have an issue about the tinny noise it makes because of its metal base. I've never typed on a Skyriter but I would guess that it has the signature Smith-Corona springiness. Since it also has a metal base, I wonder if it types noisily as well. I know Bill M. owns several of these so perhaps he can fill me in. My one quibble with the Skyriter is that it comes in fifty shades of dull grey.
Of late, the Princess 200 (Scheidegger Princess-Matic, Maritsa 11, etc.) is one machine that has caught my eye. It looks great, has gotten good press in terms of typing action, and is easier on the pocket than the Kolibri, that is, if you are lucky enough to find one. Some have mentioned that it is a loud typer, but we know that a good platen could address that. The catch: it weighs 13 lbs (6 kg)! I usually travel light so I'm not sure I'd welcome excess baggage, even if she's a princess.
Now if I could only get that
Kolibri out of my head!
Check out the sequel: Laptop Typewriters: A Report
* Typo correction: "seaxch"
* SC Skyriter image: Etsy
* Typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22