05 March 2012

Smith-Corona Sterling Automatic 12: Powered Carriages

You have seen (in the general sense it is on this blog) the typing of the Smith-Corona Sterling Automatic 12 before. Here is a picture to the typeface:

Smith-Corona Sterling Automatic 12

It is an interesting design. It has a carriage shift, a rocker like the Skyriter. It uses Skyriter spools. I has a similar carriage (except no carriage return lever) to the Galaxie series, and it is fully powered. It has a single Changeable Type slug, which is a different shape than the Galaxie ones (but the Galaxie ones fit) but it is in a different position than the Galaxies. It has a very nice keyboard, which defies the general not-so-good quality of the rest (or perhaps it does not stand time well). The keyboard is great. It has the mechanical feel of a proper keyboard (not the mushy keyboards of modern rubber dome keyboards or the keyboards of the daisywheel typewriters. It returns faster too.

However, I get the feeling this was designed to have as many features as possible in probably cheaper typewriter. I get the feeling they were slightly desperate. They put all these design elements together and used the latest technology in the original typewriter design (typebars) before finally having to move on to daisywheels and word processors. It is the last gasp of breath for a design which lasted for so long. In being this, it is inferior to the high quality typewriters of the past which formed the basis for the Smith-Corona success in the mid-century. The first electric portable was a Super 5 series with an electrical motor (the 5TE). I briefly had one of those, but the carriage was broken and I returned it unhappily. Why do not people pack these things carefully? The carriage moved in the spacious case.

I imagine this typewriter was attractive to people graduating and needing a typewriter for writing papers in education.

The powered carriage is often a source of problems I think. If you seek one, make sure you confirm it works before buying. It is also very fast and violent. If one is not used to it, it can be quite surprising. Be sure to keep the carriage clear of anything and the surface is stable.

I have removed the Skyriter ribbon so it can be returned to its rightful owner. I will have to make a post about the two Skryiters and show off their similarities and their typeface differences.

Hopefully soon I will be able to show off yet another typeface variation. To get a different typeface for the computer, I just select out of a list. To get a different typeface for a daisywheel typewriter, I replace the wheel. To get a different typeface for the manuals, I get another typewriter. Interesting progression.

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