28 February 2012

The Last Typewriter

That was typed on a Smith-Corona XL1900. No images of it will be posted because it is visually not really that distinct from other typewriters of its kind from Smith-Corona and because it is a lot of work to take pictures right and get them on this blog.

I actually have another Smith-Corona typewriter of this kind, but it is also part word processor. It has a tiny screen, although as a word processor it is very primitive and difficult to use for long texts (unlike blind under-strike typewriters from the early days, the screen allows you to only see what is the in the immediate "printing" area). However, that one has issues, and I bought it mainly because it came with a stake of daisy wheels and cartridges for ink and correction. Getting this number of daisywheels (I only used two for that post, but I have a bunch more) would have been more costly than buying these two typewriters.

This one works fine and it may be quite useful, but it is not the Ultimate Pen manual typewriters are. Compared to the range of available devices, manual typewriters still have a niche. There would be no compelling reason to use this daisy wheel typewriter over either a manual or a PC with a printer. It does not allow much more editing, although you can see that I had issues towards the end (it is very dark in this room and I am distracted and about to go to work soon).

The keyboard oddly has very little tactile feedback. My Smith-Corona Sterling Automatic 12 has a better keyboard and of course I use an expensive mechanical keyboard for my computer (Das Keyboard Ultimate). If you do not know what a mechanical keyboard is, this mechanical keyboard guide will give you all the information you could want about them. If you are not conscious of computer keyboard technology, you are probably not using a mechanical keyboard, but one with rubber dome switches which are the most common and cheapest kind.

The previously mentioned Etsy purchase arrived and it has issues (wonky tabulator and a missing spool retention nut), but it types. I think I will sell that. Perhaps I will sell it with the Sears Courier so one has the option to take a retention nut if one chooses. It types well, like the Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 33 which is a fancy version of the Lettera 32. I recently sold the Perkins Brailler on eBay so that may be the best way to get my unused machines new homes.

I will give an update on the Smith-Corona Skyriter which doesn't work when I get it and know more. I hope I will be able to make it work again. That would be great. Intentionally buying broken typewriters may be the cheap way to get typewriters if one can fix them.


  1. I like the daisywheel type face. I also buy fixer typewriters since they are cheap, and I am happy to know I am not the only one using a mechanical KB, well sort-of: an old IBM clicky one that everyone thinks I crazy for using.

  2. The IBM Model M and related keyboards are mechanical and very high quality. They use a "buckling spring" switch which is very interesting in its simplicity and superiority.

    You can get new keyboards of this type from the company which has the rights and the materials of the original keyboard: http://www.pckeyboard.com/

    They make them in the USA and you can get them custom made and they have more options, but it is the same technology and similar construction.