Wednesday 26 October 2022

Mysterious keys (2) : Where is number 1?

Someone more used to a microcomputer keyboard than a typewriter, will find the inclusion of various symbols on a typewriter somewhat mysterious or confusing, as we are exploring in this series. They may find what is NOT included even more mysterious. Many typewriters, especially portables such as my Silver-Reed SEVENTY (as shown below) do not have the number 1!

Space was a premium on a typewriter keyboard. Unlike a microcomputer, each key cannot have extra characters and symbols mapped to it after the fact, you are largely stuck with what you have when the typewriter was bought (though the typewriter could be modified if your need/budget was big enough). 

With limited space, especially for hammers, the number 1 is an easy one to miss out even though you would think it would be pretty fundamental. This is because a lowercase l works pretty well as a 1. You can also use a capital I perhaps though a lowercase l more looks the part. Not all portable typewriters lack a number 1 but many do.

Saturday 22 October 2022

Typewriter 13

The 13th typewriter has joined the collection and it is rather nice. It is an Imperial typewriter but from the end of the brand's life when it was owned by Litton and the typewriters were made in Japan. It is a Litton Imperial 201 and works pretty well though is a bit grubby and needs a new ribbon.

Friday 21 October 2022

More cake labels

More cakes have been baked by my wife, so of course that means my Olympiette needs to do some more labels.

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Showcase (2) : Imperial 2002

From the 1970s is this Imperial 2002, and very of it's time it is too. Its in a rather nice cream with a space age font for the model name (very 1970s!) The typewriter is in good condition and rather clean too unlike some of the others in the collection.

Imperial was a typewriter manufacturer based in Leicester. However, in 1966 it was bought by Litton Industries and it's products became based on the Royal Typewriter Company's range. Production ceased in the UK in 1975. The 2002 was built in Portugal in the late 1970s and by now the "Imperial" brand had little in it which was British. This doesn't stop my 2002 being a very fine typewriter.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

All tagged up

The typewriter collection is steadily growing, in double figures now. One problem is a number of the typewriters look very similar in their cases so i was thinking of a way to tell them apart without having to go through them opening them up trying to find the typewriter i need. I did not want to put stickers on or deface the cases. My bright idea is to use tags! This does not damage the typewriters in any way and also makes it look like some kind of important archive collection. Which maybe it is.

Sunday 9 October 2022

Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter

Nowadays anyone can have a pretty powerful word processor in their web browser and before that the likes of Microsoft Word and Wordstar were essential software installed on millions of computers. But before the electronic word processor there was of course the typewriter, with companies having rooms full of typists typing away. Typewriters had a number of disadvantages (apparently). To amend a document (to fix some typos or change some details like a date or address) often meant it had to be typed out again entirely. However, there was a technology developed by IBM which could solve this problem.

The Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter was a version of the highly popular IBM Selectric electric typewriter and was the first device to be marketed as a word processor in 1964. The MT/ST stored documents on magnetic tape. Each tape cartridge could store up to 25K which doesn't sound a lot these days but was perfectly adequate for a page of text. Later on IBM released the MagCard system, these were punched card sized magnetic cards which could store up to 8, 000 characters.

Documents could be edited by the typist by loading the document onto the typewriter (which being electric could print it out from storage) and then the typist would amend the document by crossing out or overwriting text. These changes were then stored on the tape cartridge or card. Once the edits had been made onto draft copies then the final version could be printed out on the nice paper. With two drives even mail merge could be performed.

The IBM MT/ST was successful in the 1960s but by the 1970s the technology was obsolete and had been surpassed by screen based word processors by the likes of Wang, however this is where the road to Word, Apple Pages et cetera began.
Image from IBM Mag Card Composer manual

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Typing on a Silver-Reed Silverette

I thought i might post a few videos of me typing on some of the typewriters in my collection. Here is the first, more will follow... when i actually record them!

Saturday 1 October 2022

Working on the Grey Fox

As mentioned earlier, the Grey Fox typewriter doesn't work really at all. Today i began some repairs on it, not really knowing what i was doing of course but it is all part of the learning process. I've managed to improve matters with the Grey Fox anyway, it now can type reasonably well. Though red only. Work will continue...