Saturday 29 July 2023

Selling typewriters (2)

Some more typewriter adverts, from public domain sources.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Changing a calculator ribbon

Time to change another ribbon, however this time not on a typewriter. The ribbon being changed is on my big mains powered Silver-Reed 1250PD calculator which has a built-in printer. This was a fairly easy job, the ribbon and it's spools being very similar to the type used on typewriters, though a bit smaller. The calculator now produces clean and crisp results in both black and red (for negative values) - the latter will be more handy if i do my finances on it!

Saturday 22 July 2023

Showcase (9) : Silver-Reed Silverette

This was one of the early additions to the collection and the first of a number of similar machines built by Silver Seiko of Japan. The Silver-Reed Silverette is a neat portable typewriter in a pleasing black finish. The keys are all (apart from one which i assume must be a replacement) yellowed by something - hopefully just age!

The typewriter works pretty well. Its a basic typewriter without a colour selector or a number 1 key. It does have a bulletpoint key though and a few fractions.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Why i like typewriters (2) : The presence

Continuing the musings about why i like typewriters, there is a wonderful physical presence about them and of course their output. In a world in danger of slipping down the metaverse plughole, you can't beat the tactile feedback you get from typewriters. Everything has a purpose and interacts with the real world be it the scale to set your margins or the ribbon colour selector or any of the other controls and levers. It changes the typewriter and how it works and reacts.

Then you press a key to type a letter and it results in something you can hold and touch, a creation in the real world. Something to be treasured, or thrown away as it contains so many typos.

Saturday 15 July 2023

Mag Card video

The IBM Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter, which merged the electric typewriter with data storage was the first system marketed as a word processor. To show how a later version of this system works here is part of an IBM training video on the Mag Card II. If nothing else it is a fascinating look at how office work has evolved since the early 1970s.

Tuesday 11 July 2023


Now this wouldn't be a fixture in all offices by any means but larger organisations, especially those which relied on timely information like newspaper offices, would have a teleprinter. This was a device which could send textual messages over the telephone line (or a company's private network if you were really posh). The messages sent were encoded in a variety of formats, 5 and 8 bit codes were the most common. 

You could either have a simple receiver which printed received messages onto paper or a transceiver which also allowed you to send messages too using a typewriter like keyboard. Both machines would encode and decode the message for you so all you needed to do was type and the machine did the rest. Some teleprinters also allowed you to send messages encoded onto paper tape beforehand which could be handy if you wanted to send the message when the telephone charges were lower for example. Systems like the Post Office telegram service which was introduced in 1927 could send 65 words per minute so it was a fast way to send important information, the most important use of this technology of course being the iconic teleprinter showing the football results on Grandstand!

Naturally such systems is now sadly obsolete, replaced by new fangled technologies like the fax machine and email. Teleprinters are still used in the aviation industry though many of these print to screen and not to paper. 

Two Teleprinter adverts (from the Post Office Telecoms Journal)

Saturday 8 July 2023

GT ribbon

New ribbons for a couple of the typewriters have arrived so yesterday i fitted one to my Smith-Corona GT. Now this was quite different to the other ribbon changes i have done as the new ribbon needs to be spooled onto the GT's own drums. To be honest it was a very messy job which left my fingers black! However, the resulting type is very clean and crisp. I'm just glad its probably not a job i'll have to do again for a very long time!

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Silver-Reed 1250PD

As well as a lot of typewriters i also have a lot of calculators, but the biggest and most impressive is my Silver-Reed 1250PD. This is a mains powered machine, in production since 1978 so i assume mine was built sometime in the 1980s. It hasn't been powered up for years and was quite mucky, after a good clean i plugged it in and... it worked perfectly! The VFD display a very pleasing cyan.

The calculator is intended for desk tops and heavy duty number crunching, no doubt would have been right at home next to a typewriter. It has it's own built in printer though the ribbon seems to have been completely worn out. Something else to get a ribbon for then.