Tuesday 31 October 2023

Showcase (11) : Smith-Corona GT

The Italian design firm Ghia are well-known for their car designs, especially for deluxe models in the Ford range in latter days, but did you know they also once designed a typewriter too? The nice but somewhat curious Smith-Corona GT has Ghia (and thus automotive like) styling. This is a typewriter with go faster stripes and pieces of rubber on the trim including the carriage return lever! When you open the case (which carries the Ghia badge like a proud owner's Ford Grenada Ghia) you get the smell of rubber!

Although a rather plasticky machine from the mid 1970s, the typewriter works pretty well, the Q key sticks when used but other than that there are not any other problems to report and i have been using it recently for my touch typing practice. The ribbon was recently changed, this was a much more fiddly (and inky finger dirty) job than usual. 

Saturday 28 October 2023

Green LEDs

I have bought quite a few calculators lately but when i saw this Commodore 798D on eBay i knew i had space for one more. It has a lovely green LED display which makes it stands out from my other working Commodores with their red LEDs. The calculator, built in 1976, is like new and seems to work perfectly.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

The workshop opens

The new dedicated typewriter "workshop" has opened! Up until now i have had to use the dining table to explore the typewriters in the collection, which is also my desk when working from home! A dedicated space for the typewriters will make everything much easier. Maybe i can make a start on trying to fix some of the broken machines in the collection...

Saturday 21 October 2023

USB Typewriter

Typewriters are, of course, much more fun to type on. Imagine if you could use a typewriter to input into a computer? Well indeed you can! This company modifies typewriters so they provide an output to computers and tablets. I'm in two minds about it, i like the idea of using a typewriter with your computer though as we have seen with the Mysterious keys series the difference in keyboard layouts between typewriters and computers must surely cause some issues? 

However, i don't really like to cross the streams. Personally i feel that if you want LOUD typing on your computer then get a Tecknet X705 (or similar) mechanical keyboard. Though if you do go down this conversion route then have fun, thats what this is all about after all!

Tuesday 17 October 2023


Our other new typewriter is this early 1960s Olympia SF Deluxe. The typewriter looks to work fine (and has the fine looks of a typical Olympia) though a more thorough evaluation will be carried out in the coming weeks.

Saturday 14 October 2023


The first of two additions to the typewriter collection is this Olivetti Lettera 32. I've wanted an Olivetti for some time, it fills one of the gaps in the collecton. The typewriter is a little worn but works perfectly well.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

A job lot of calculation machines

My birthday is upcoming and i decided to spend my birthday money the best way possible, on retro office equipment! Two typewriters are pending, hopefully arriving in the next couple of days, but yesterday i received a job lot of sixteen old calculators! Some are a little more modern (though still firmly from the 1980s) than i prefer as i generally go for pre-LCD display machines but there are some interesting machines here (and only one real duplicate) which will be further explored in the months to come.

Saturday 7 October 2023

Rockwell 24RD-II

From 1976 is this attractive calculator with a very tasteful brown and orange colour scheme for the keys. The calculator was powered by a Rockwell A5901CA CPU. This gave the 24RD-II square root and percentage functions as well as the basic four arithmetric functions. 

Whatever function you use, the numbers are shown on an eight and a half digit vacuum fluorescent display. The calculator supported negative numbers and has the extra half digit to display the sign if negative.

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Typing in the movies (1) : Cipher Bureau

In this new series we look at some interesting appearances by typewriters in old movies.

A few months ago we discussed the specialist Musicwriter which was a typewriter to create musical notation. In the rather good 1939 spy drama Cipher Bureau we see one (or similar anyway) in action! The film deals with a U.S. government department tasked with cracking enemy agent codes (which the film covers in quite interesting detail).

The key part of the film however is when the enemy agents switch to an ingenious new code which uses musical notes, the spy master planning to send his message over the radio in a live concert! The code breakers are onto this though, they listen to the concert and transcribe the music into notation using the Musicwriter (how realistic this is i don't know, i can't play a note!) 

Thanks to the Musicwriter the enemy spy ring is foiled, the U.S. is safe and everyone goes home happily for tea. Typewriters save the world, again.

Image from movie