Typewriter porn

OK – I don’t know anything about this movie, but I might see it just because it has a Hermes Ambassador on the poster.

Let me first just say that I am a longtime Apple fan. I bought my first Mac ( a Performa) back in 1994, several years before Steve Jobs returned to lead an amazing turnaround at the company. I always thought that the Mac was just outright better than machines based on the IBM PC in terms of ease of use. As a non geek, that was important to me. I still use a Mac as my home computer to this day, and would not consider using anything else in that capacity. They are powerful, easy to use, and reliable. As a fan, I have read more than one book on the history of the company. It is a fascinating story with lots of colorful, brilliant characters.

Having said that, I’m getting a little tired of the, let’s say, deification of Steve Jobs. I’m certainly not trying to be dismissive of what he accomplished in his life. Frankly, he accomplished a hell of a lot. I’m just asking for a little perspective, is all.

Maybe my problem is really with the media and the way they have been covering his life, death, and remembrance. To listen to the talking heads blather on about his “genius”, you would think he was the most brilliant person who ever lived. They talk about how he “created” all these products, including the Mac. He never created ANYTHING. Steve Jobs’ brilliance was in the ability to see the technology available at any given time, imagine how it could be used in new ways, and prod and motivate his engineers to put it in a polished, easy to use product. His attention to detail was legendary, and appreciated by end users like me.

Did the man help shape the technology and music industries? You bet he did. Did he ever use focus groups in product development? Not a chance. He knew that the average person, in general, doesn’t know what they want until you show it to them.

But we also have to remember that he had the good fortune to be growing up at the right time and in the right place. Silicon Valley in the early 70’s. His vision (along with Wozniak’s technical skills) made personal computers, as we know them, a concrete reality for the average person. His status as a founder of Apple Computer gave him the clout and finances to get the Mac project up and running. He accomplished amazing things in his life, and should be celebrated for that.

The man was brilliant. But an authentic Genius? I don’t know. That word, in my opinion, is reserved for a handful of people in human history. Einstein. DaVinci. Maybe I’m wrong – it’s happened before.

Here’s another example of the font I’m searching for. I had a good suggestion given to me after the last post, but the one I’m looking for appears to be a skinnier version of that, and the capital J in the other one is nothing I’ve ever seen on this font. Thanks for the help, though!











Has anybody seen this typeface before? I see it a lot on┬ámunicipal buildings around here (fire stations, police stations, libraries, even a few YMCA’s. I love the look of it. Sort of a mid-century throwback. I’ve been unable to find a name for it, but would love to use it on some documents.

In the last week or so, I finally bit the bullet and dipped a toe into the world of smartphones. Until now, I’ve used a cheap, pre-paid cell phone. I finally got tired of not being able to get reception where I live, so I decided to switch to a different carrier. I decided to get an Android phone, and since then I’ve been wasting endless hours playing with the thing. The phone has a 2mp camera, which sounds wimpy – and it is for sure, but I can still get photos good enough to post online.

Both of these were taken with the Toy Camera setting

I found a camera app called FXCamera which is basically a set of enhancements you can apply to your photos to get different looks. It has Toy Camera (my fave), Polaroid, fisheye (meh), Andy Warhol, B&W, sepia, etc. Suddenly I find myself snapping wherever I go.

AM goodness

I got this for Christmas in, like, 1978. I maybe used it a half dozen times total (it is only an AM radio after all). I’m not sure why I kept it all these years. Maybe I could foresee the retro sci-fi collectibles craze back when I was 10 years old, but I doubt it. I’m actually thinking of throwing it up on the e-bay – maybe I’ll get rich. It does have all the original packaging.

I wanted this entry to be a typecast, but my scanner is broken so we can just pretend it’s written on paper. I picked up a new machine today, a Royal Futura from the ’70s I would guess. We were at the local thrift store, and I saw it sitting on some furniture. From the design it seems like this was from the end of the Safari-like Royals.

Royal Futura

I was very surprised with this, my first Royal. Even though there are a few plastic parts (the carriage end caps, the ‘face’ of the machine around the keyboard, the case is a little cheap) it’s mostly made of metal. I’m sure the quality/thickness of the metal parts are of a lesser nature than, say, my Olivetti 21 or Olympia SM9, but it’s not a flimsy machine by any stretch. Maybe I’m biased toward the Europeans, but I had the idea in my head that the Royals were not as precise and were flimsy by comparison. This machine is, actually, pretty decently put together. It has a light typing touch, and the type lines up nicely. This was a relief, since I really don’t like using machines that type all over the place.

The biggest surprise was how clean this machine is. I mean, this thing must have been serviced before being donated to the thrift store. It is clean inside and out. Even the platen looks and feels almost new. This is the closest I have been to a “new” manual typewriter that was made almost 40 years ago. Even the rubber feet are soft! Overall it’s in excellent condition. I had to scoop it up – a steal for $18.

I actually bought this for my daughter to use, since the type action is so light and will be easy on her 6-year old fingers. I imagine I will be at her desk using it myself, too. I actually like the “white” keys with black letters on them. It seems more like typed letters on paper to look at. Also, the tombstone shaped keys are nice to type on, since they seem closer together than the keys on my other machines. This may be an optical illusion from the shape of the keys, or just wishful thinking on my part.

I may have to seriously think about getting a Quiet DeLuxe now….

I have an Olivetti Model 21 (basically a Studio 44) that I have de-gunked and cleaned, but have yet to oil. The problem is, I don’t know where to apply oil. I have cleaned up a few machines, but have hesitated to oil them in fear of putting too much, or in the wrong places. I’ve heard from more than one person to never oil the segment (the semi circle where all the type bars are attached), but I have no idea about anything else.

The Oli has a heavy action, and I’m wondering if it’s because I have never oiled the machine. Anybody out there done this before?

Does anybody have any experience with an Olivetti Studio 45? It appears to be the plastic-bodied successor to the Studio 44/Model 21, with a few cost-cutting measures in terms of components thrown in. But is it basically the same machine, with the same feel and durability?

I have to admit the plastic chassis reminds me of the old Apple II’s and Atari computers of my youth, and I just love the shape of the keys and the BIG letters on them. Before I take the plunge, however, I’m looking for some insight, since I probably would have to commit to one of these sight unseen.


I’ve given away a few machines lately (the latest was my only electric portable, an early one), mainly because I know I wouldn’t have used them as much as they deserve to be used. I’ve pared down my collection a little to the essentials. Several factors prevent me from having a larger collection:

1. Money, or lack of it.

2. Lack of space. I live in a modest home with not even a place to have a permanent workbench.

3. I’m not much of a collector by nature. I don’t just pick up machines in an effort to have examples of everything (although I applaud those that do – they are preserving a part of our history). I selected the ones I own because I like to type on them.

I figure I’d like to have a small collection of machines in excellent working condition. This dream team would include one of each of the following: Hermes 3000 (2nd generation), Olympia SM9 (got it), Olympia SM3,4 or 5 (got the ‘3), Smith Corona Silent Super from the 50’s (got it), Olympia SF or Hermes Rocket, Olivetti Lettera 32, Olivetti Studio 44 (got an Olivetti 21 – essentially the same thing), Torpedo portable, Underwood TM5 desktop, Olympia SG1 or SG3 desktop. That’s 10 machines total to achieve Omnipresent Galactic Creaminess. A goal worth reaching for, I think.

Let’s hope I can achieve it before they all end up either in the landfill, or with their fingertips all cut off.