1971 Olympia SM9

The one machine to have if you’re having only one…..

Early Smith-Corona Electric - late 1950's probably

It works, but has a small issue with the basket shift. It won’t return up quite all the way, cutting off the letter bottoms.

1960's? Remington Premier

This Remy is heading to a friend’s 10-year-old daughter, who’s been begging her parents for a typewriter.

Late 1960's Smith Corona Deluxe Librarian

Got this one on Craigslist for $20 – never seen one before or since. Removable platen. Workhorse machine.

Late 1950's (I think) Olympia SM3

Another cheap Craigslist find.

SM3 logo detail

Now if I could just get this cool logo onto the SM9……

1950's Smith Corona Silent Super

I bought this from the publisher of Typex, when he visited my home from Philadelphia last year. Great machine.

Olivetti/Underwood Model 21 (late 1960's, I assume)

One thing about the Olivettis – they definitely had a distinctive look and vibe about them. The Saab of typewriters.

Olivetti detail

Adler Tippa S - 1970's most likely

Despite the plastic outer chassis, it’s well made on the inside where it counts. A decent travel typer, and pretty quiet, too.

This was going to be a typecast, but I’m at work.

1) Since I live in New England, I was able to watch Tom Furrier and Cambridge Typewriter get featured on Chronicle last Friday night, which airs on WCVB channel 5 in the Boston area. The show had several segments about technologies that are obsolete but still hanging around, like typewriters, pay phones, cassette players, VHS tapes, etc. The segment with Cambridge Typewriter was good I thought, and not mocking in any way. They also spoke with a local travel writer who has written about 60 books, all on typewriter, and also mentioned that many young people are becoming curious about the machines, since most teenagers have never even seen a typewriter before.

I also heard a story this morning on NPR about how every kind of tool ever invented, and I mean every kind, is still being made brand new and used somewhere in the world. They went as far back as prehistoric stone tools. Believe it or not, there are people around the world who are hobbyists that like to make and use stone tools like early humans did (and I thought the people who collect anvils were on the fringe). So the moral of the story is: tools never die, no matter how “obsolete” they may seem.

2) I was going through the 7 manual typers I currently own over the weekend, and even though the latest acquisitions are all in very good condition, the first machine I ever bought 2 years ago is still the best, and my favorite: a 1971 Olympia SM9. I payed maybe $30 with shipping for it on eBay, brought it to Tom Furrier for servicing and cleaning, and man, you would think I just bought the thing brand new. This baby is perfect. The only wish I have is that it had the script Olympia logo on the front. Instead it has the red dot logo and boring “OLYMPIA” in all caps. I’m thinking of buying one a few years older, mainly for spare parts, and swapping the hoods. Nothing against the red dot, but the script logo has more flair and really gives the 1950’s-1960’s look I like on typewriters from the middle of the century.


I just read a column on Salon where the columnist basically trashes the idea of NaNoWriMo. I have never participated myself, but I know several of you in the Typosphere regularly do. The column can be fund here –


Read the article, then check out the comments. Priceless! The first few negative ones were the best, really taking her to task for her Holier-than-thou attitude. Enjoy.

My daughter has been asking me to get her a typewriter, and I came across this one at a local thrift shop today. I believe it’s early seventies, but can’t tell for sure since the usual serial number sites don’t have anything I could find on them. It needs a thorough cleaning and de-gunking, but otherwise is in excellent working condition. The type is nice and straight for all characters (I can’t deal with a machine that has characters all over the place, sorry. It drives me crazy.) My daughter was very excited when I brought it home and put in a new ribbon for her. She’s typing away as we speak, spelling out nonsense words. The price was right, and it even came with the instruction booklet, case and key.

Nice, all metal chassis

Can't beat that price.

I’m going to a 2-day typewriter meetup in Connecticut in a few weeks. Or as my wife calls it, a “geek fest” [she means it playfully, or at least she better be if she wants me to be nice about her scrapbooking weekends 😉  ]

So yes, I am going to drive 3+ hours to meet with other manual typewriter afficionados for 2 days. I’m sure I will see many rare and valuable machines. Maybe swap one of mine that I am bringing with me for a Hermes or an Olympia SM7. We’ll see how it goes. Day 2 of the meetup involves a tour of a rather large private collection consisting of machines from 1920 or earlier. I saw pictures of this collection when the owner was at my house last fall. Very impressive, but not pieces you would want to use every day. Or could.

The meeting has been advertised on the Typewriters and Portable Typewriter groups on Yahoo! Groups in case anybody else who lives in the Northeast region has any interest. I will be sure to take and post many photos on this blog.

First, let me just say that I guess I understand the reasons why Apple does things at their retail stores the way they do – it just doesn’t make them any less annoying. I am a long-time user of Macintosh computers, and a general fan of Apple products. However, I also understand why many people over the years have branded the company as arrogant. I present the following:

Monday, 12:10pm – My iPod Nano has sustained water damage and is not working properly, so I figure I’ll head over to the Apple store, which is a 10 minute drive from my office, and see if somebody can take a quick look at it. I walk into the store, which doesn’t seem very busy, and make my way over to the Genius Bar. I’m told by a young lady standing in front of the Bar wearing headgear and a walkie-talkie  that I will need to make an appointment. I look around at the 2 people being helped and the three extra “Geniuses” standing there doing nothing, and figure I may have to wait 10 minutes or so. “Sure,” I say, “how long of a wait is there?”

“The earliest appointment today is at 3:40 – can you come back then?”

“No, I’ll have to come back tomorrow.” and I made an appointment for the same time the following day.

Tuesday, 12:10 pm – I head over to my appointment on my lunch hour. I check in, and am told they are about 10 minutes behind schedule. So I wait – what else am I going to do? After a while, my Genius comes over and introduces himself.

“Hi, what seems to be troubling your ipod?” (like it’s a living thing)

I play dumb. “I’m not sure. It just quit on me.”

The Genius takes out a scope that looks like the one used during ear exams (you know, the one with the light on the end). He looks closely at the connector and headphone jacks on the bottom of the ‘pod.

“It looks like it’s sustained some water damage. See, there is a little piece of reactive paper built way up in the headphone jack. This paper will turn red when it’s made contact with water, and it’s red. Any idea how that happened?”

I proceed to throw my daughter under the bus: “I don’t know, but I do have a 5-year old at home, so anything’s possible, I guess.” (I wasn’t about to tell him how I accidentally left the thing in my shorts pocket when I dove into the lake over the weekend. The damn thing is so slim, you don’t even know it’s there half the time anyway! – sorry Sweet Pea, but Daddy was cornered.)

The Genius hooks it up, and is able to get it working. I figure I’m home free. But the Genius then tells me that it’s 50/50 for the thing being cured. Water will cause corrosion, and can kill the battery. A battery which cannot be replaced because of the way the new Nanos are built, all in one piece. “Crap,” I say out loud, “so, do I have to buy another one? That’s $150.”

“The ipod is still under warranty. Even though water damage is not covered, we can sell you a brand new one for $79 if it dies on you. Go home and put it in a bag of dry rice. Sometimes that works to draw the moisture out. If the battery is fried, then bring it in and you can swap it for another one.” I swear those are the EXACT words he used. EXACT.

Wednesday, 12:15ish pm – I tried the Rice-a-Roni trick the previous night, and tried charging the ‘pod, which by now I’ve named Balky, all morning at the office, but no dice. Her battery has given up the ghost. I’m not delighted about having to replace it, but it was my own fault to begin with. I go back to the Store, figuring I can do the swap. But nothing is easy.

“Hi, I had an appointment with a Genius yesterday, and was told I can bring this in to swap for another, since it has water damage.”

“Ok, you’ll need to make another appointment for the Genius Bar.”

“But I already had the problem diagnosed, and was told I can just come back and swap it.”

“Yes, but that is a service exchange, and anything to do with service for a device has to go through the Genius Bar.”

“I don’t understand. All the info should be in the computer. Can’t somebody just grab one and I can pay for the exchange?”

“I’m sorry, but we can’t do that. The closest appointment is at 3:20. Can you come back then?”

“No, I can’t come back then! I work for a living – who the hell can be at the mall at 3:20 in the afternoon unless they work nights! This is f%@king insane! Any other retail store has a service desk you just walk up to – why should I have to make an appointment to do a friggin’ exchange! I have better shit to do than to spend all my lunch breaks at the Apple Store! This is the THIRD time I’ve been here this week!” (actual quotes)

“I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do.”

“Fine. Give me an appointment for noon tomorrow.”

Thursday, 12:00 pm – I go to the Apple Store – AGAIN – hoping I’ll have better luck.

“Hello, sir. My name is Brian. How can I help you?”

I explain the situation, and hand over the iPod.

“Ok, let me look to see if I have another blue 8GB model in stock……Looks like we’re all out. Sorry.”

“No problem. I’ll take another color.”

“Yeah, sorry. On a service exchange, since you’re getting a new one for the lower cost, they only allow you to get an exact replacement.”

Of course that’s what they do – why would I expect a happy ending to this story?

“It seems like we’re all out of the 8BG models entirely, so even if I wanted to get you a different color I couldn’t. I’ll have to order one for you.”

“Ok – I guess that’s my only option. How long will that take?”

“3 or 4 days.”


The new iPod came 3 days later. I suppose since it was my own fault, I shouldn’t be complaining. But making an appointment to exchange a product – that shit has got to go. Apple, are you listening?

I came across an interesting site on the intertubes the other day – http://www.AmericanSuburbX.com

It bills itself as “Photography & Culture”, and mainly has interviews and photographs from influential photographers who practice in the documentary style, or what I refer to as “street photography. I’ve been interested in that kind of picture making for quite a while (mainly because it requires little in the way of equipment). Guys like Gary Winogrand and Walker Evans (I really like Winogrand’s style inparticular) are featured with many examples of their work. Definitely worth checking out. I have always liked photographs of the built environment between the 1940’s and 1980’s, and this site has a lot of those, too.

DONE! (see previous post)