This post is about the entire history of the Smith-Corona Skyriter. My scanner is gone, and I am stopping obtaining typewriters, so future posts will likely contain only text and pictures. I have some typewriters still to post about after this.
The Smith-Corona Skyriter is an ultra-portable typewriter developed by Smith-Corona and released at the end of 1949 along with the new line of Super 5 typewriters. This Smith-Corona Silent is one of the first models (the receipt for it is early 1950, and this is the first style of the new line) of the Super 5 line and it is the first design. Now, the Super 5 series is based on the Speedline style and the main difference between these two are the carriage controls and the body. The actual typing action is very similar and perhaps even the same. This development is part of WWII. The pre-war portable typewriters were mainly released as "Corona" and occasionally as "L. C. Smith & Corona", and during the war, Smith-Corona was preoccupied with the war effort (they made rifles) so there were no developments. Between the start of the war and after it, they had some transitional models, and after the release of the Super 5 series, one could still find Speedline designs with similar keys and finishes as the Super 5 series. This was common for all such transitions, probably to diversity the line and use up old parts.
Before the war, Corona released their first ultra-portable, probably directly inspired by Hermes, and it is called the Corona Zephyr. They released an updated version called the Corona Zephyr Deluxe. These are very basic models, although very visually attractive, and they are the foundation for the Skyriter. The first model was released in 1938 and the Deluxe model shortly after in 1941 I think. The Deluxe model shows the design of the Super 5 series coming to light. The Deluxe model has a right and left shift key and a more ergonomic carriage return lever. Features of the Zephyr Line are:
- Metal snap on cases
- Single piece body and spool covers which snap on
- Single colour ribbon
- Metal ringed keys
I have seen pictures of soldiers/reports in WWII hold what appear to be Zephyrs and since time machines were not invented until before this, they must be Zephyrs and not Skyriters.
The Corona Zephyr:
The Corona Zephyr Deluxe:
Zephyrs are interesting, but not that great for typing. If the metal ringed keys on the Deluxe seem unusually vivid, that is not an effect...that is what my Deluxe looked like in person. Even though this example was missing its spool covers and had a mechanical issue, I feared to show offer it publicly for fear of those who would destroy it for those keys. I gave both of these Zephyrs away (yesterday) to a young collector who has a site which has some great pictures of his machines. He has some for sale too which may interest you. I am a young collector of typewriters (I am 24) and he is young compared to me. Typewriters have a future ensured.
After the war, the first model of the Smith-Corona Skyriter was released. The features of this new design are:
- Metal snap on cases, identical to the Zephyr (all Zephyr cases work on Skyriters)
- Two piece metal body with hinged top
- Single colour ribbon and an improved way of advancing the carriage
- Plastic two colour green keys
Smith-Corona Skyriter, 1949:
After this, Smith-Corona constantly updated the look of the Skyriter during the reign of the Super 5 and Skyriter designs. Production would move to England towards the end and the last example here will be one of those more unique English versions.
Here is the progression of designs...do not ask me to date them. If you want an individual typewriter dated, ask on the Yahoo Group TYPEWRITERS and Jay Respler can give you a precise answer straight from the records of Smith-Corona.
Smith-Corona Skyriter, no stripes, two tone green keys:
Smith-Corona Skyriter, no stripes, single tone green keys:
Smith-Corona Skyriter, tan body and zipper case and light keys with original carriage return lever:
Smith-Corona Skyriter, tan body and zipper case with light keys with long carriage return lever:
Smith-Corona Skyriter, English made, smooth silver body, white keys, and long carriage return lever, with black zipper case with red interior:
You see that screwdriver in some of the pictures (I took these in this order)? That was because after the Smith-Corona Skyriter, no stripes and two tone keys, I took its body off. Why? Because that one had a damaged body which was severely warped and prevented the carriage from shifting properly. Its case is also damaged and won't attach to the body so it cannot be used to carry the typewriter safely. What to do? The only way to repair those parts is to replace them...but that would require finding a typewriter which had a good body and a good case, but was broken otherwise. Well, I found one. I found a Skyriter which had a case and good body, but the rest of the typewriter was damaged beyond repair. The platen was trash, the lid was missing, the carriage return lever was missing, and it had mechanical damage beyond what was reasonable to fix. I bought it on eBay for cheap, after all, who else would bid on that kind of trash? Here it is (case looks like this one, although this one is the case for the English made Skyriter:
Now, after this, something bad happened. Typewriters such as these were not as valued. The climate was changing and people's needs shifted, and high quality machines such as these were no longer in as widespread demand. There was a shift towards lower prices in manual machines and shoving as many features into a typewriter and keeping the price low. People blame "plastic bodies" as the culprit, but this was just a coincidence. Plastic is a fine and very useful material, however, typewriters with plastic bodies did not become widespread until there was a specific decline in the population's need for high quality manual typewriters. The next model would be released under various names, most commonly the "Corsair", and it had many features in common with the Skyriter from which it was spawned, and it is actually a useful design, but the decline had started and what was to follow this design was to be even more shameful.
Well, there you have it. The beginning and the beginning of the end of the Skyriter, perhaps one of the best ultra portable typewriters ever made.
All the Skyriters I still have and while they are great typewriters, one can in fact have too many. If you want one...ask me. Shipping is easy and I do not want a lot for them. No more available now.