Friday, November 11, 2011

And We're Back

Sorry. I meant to get back to this sooner.

Today I've made a YouTube video featuring all of my typewriters. It's current with everything I currently own. It's very simple so don't expect this to win anything at Sundance.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Good News

The Windows 64-bit scanner software has been obtained and is working properly, and there will be more typewritten updates coming. Woohoo!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An eBay Education

I love eBay. You can get some bargains there, and you can get ripped off. I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

But in truth, what eBay gives you is an education. Some guy is selling a 1960s Smith-Corona portable for $1000. If you didn't have the other listings on eBay as a reference, you might think he had something special. But no, one look at the other listings reveals that you can easily get an identical one (since they're very common) for about $35-$50 shipped to your home.

I've bought several typewriters in the past few months. It's an obsession that has led to speculation I may have Asperger's or some similar disorder. I love small details and trivial information. I like to know as much about my typewriters as possible. This is where eBay, when used in conjunction with the Yahoo Portable Typewriters Forum, is a goldmine of information.

You can't afford them, but you'll get to look at machines you'll never be able to afford, and find out more information about the ones you have. It's a good way to get a free education, if you can resist hitting the "buy it now" button. It's tough, man...I almost did it yesterday, but I fought it.

I think it takes a special kind of person to love typewriters. You can't mind getting your hands stained with ink. You have to enjoy detailing with a toothbrush. You have to like the smell of 3-in-1 oil. You can't mind being branded a throwback or a freak. You should get used to being called a hipster even if you're not.

Names and strange looks don't really matter. This is the life I've chosen. Or, somehow, has been chosen for me. We do what we do, even if we don't know why. Perhaps that's part of the education as well...learning a bit about ourselves and what we like.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mario and Luigi, My Spanish-Italian Homeboys.

Mario (left), an Olivetti-Underwood 21, and Luigi (right), an Olivetti-Underwood Studio 44. Internally, the exact same machine.
Mario (left) and Luigi (right), drug-taking, murderous videogame characters, plumbers, and racist Italian stereotypes.

These I got last week. I haven't been keeping up with the blog as I should. Luigi came first. Sadly, there is a problem with the carriage return. I'd love to fix it but I don't see why it's not working right, and I'm not willing to take it apart. It is fully funtional otherwise, if I'm inclined to manually turn the knob to advance to the next line. It is a wonderful typer, though.

Mario came a few days later and I just about fell off my chair. It's perfect in almost every way. The action, the typing, the return, the feel of brand new. I've never seen anything like it. If necessary I could use parts off Luigi to fix it, but I doubt I'll need to. These are both over 45 years old. I've stopped buying typewriters, at least for now, but if and when I do it will be exclusively Olivettis and Underwoods. I'm really impressed by the quality and beauty of them.

Help Me, Dr. Zaius!

Dr. Zaius, wisest and greatest of all typewriters.

Dr. Zaius, wisest and greatest of all apes.

My newest, bestest friend, and 11th typewriter buddy, Dr. Zaius. An eBay purchase I won on Labor Day that got lost by the post office, it arrived here yesterday. This is a big, heavy typing machine. The serial number indicates it's from 1949. This isn't my oldest machine (that would be Ignatius the '48 Remington Rand Portable DeLuxe), but it's a very good typewriter indeed. The seller's story was that this belonged to his uncle, a reporter who wrote for the Chicago Sun Times (among other papers) and who was also a devoted Underwood enthusiast. I will tell you this: no one is going to steal my typewriters. But if they did, I wouldn't miss any of them except the Underwoods and the Olivettis. These are some wonderful machines.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Farewell, My Typewriter Summer

Farewell, my obsessive typewriter-hoarding summer. I'll still love and enjoy the ones I have, but my buying spree has ended. I began the summer with one machine and I currently have eight. With the coming weeks I'll have three more, for a final tally of eleven. These have all been paid for and are making their way to me though the U.S. postal system.

Here's a rundown in order of purchase, for those keeping score:

01. '60s Sears (Smith-Corona) Citation 12 ("Typie")
02. 1948 Remington Rand Portable Deluxe ("Ignatius")
03. 1955 Underwood Universal Quiet Tab ("Sam")
04. '50s Smith-Corona Skyriter ("Mr. McMahon")
05. '50s Hermes Rocket ("Sigmund")
06. '60s Olivetti Lettera 32 ("Rusty")
07. 1958 Royal (Montgomery-Ward) Heritage ("Dirty Harry")
08. '70s Olivetti Lettera 35 ("Pablo")

The three in the system (which I bought instead of that $150 Android smartphone I was looking at) haven't arrived yet, but I'll list them here for reference purposes. Any day now the first of them should be arriving, and they'll be presented here and given their (probably Italian stereotyped) nicknames.

09. '60s Olivetti-Underwood 21
10. '60s Underwood-Olivetti Studio 44
11. '40s Underwood Standard

I look forward to getting to know these machines and cleaning and installing ribbons. It's something I really enjoy doing. They're much larger and less portable than the machines I've been using, particularly the Underwood Standard, so it's a matter of making a little space available. The Standard was a very heavy office machine (about 30 pounds), and there's no case for it, but I got a good deal and I've developed a strong affection for Underwoods in particular. I like the way they feel and type (the '55 Underwood is the single best typewriter I've ever used).

Olivetti bought Underwood in the late '50s, so the other two machines I bought are from the studio series...very similar inside but different in outward appearance. Tennessee Williams used an Olivetti Studio 44, which looks like a larger, heavier version of the Lettera 22/32. Excited to get the typewriters and hope to have some good news the next time I post something here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A.K.A. Pablo

What 99 cents buys. This is Pablo, my Italian/Spanish Olivetti Lettera 35 typewriter, circa 1972. This baby is all metal, and it's nice and shiny. I put a new ribbon on it and mostly cleared the jam that was keeping paper from going through. It's a wonderful machine. Life is short, and we need to find happiness where we can...tinkering with these old machines and trying to make them work, and hearing the clack clack clack when I type on them...few things make me happier in this world. Don't ask me why. I have no idea.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Even before they went away, typewriters changed.

At their peak, they were beautiful steel machines...with curvy designs and bright colors. And descriptive names...the Skyriter, the Corsair, the Sterling, the Futura. Typewriters had personality. This changed to a small degree in the '60s and by the mid-'70s typewriters were square plastic boxes with very little metal. And if you wanted colors you were in long as you liked tan or white.

To compete with computers, typewriters of the '80s were mostly electric, ugly pieces of plastic with names like the AE830. the SC110 and the GX-6750. Other than the tiny company logos, there was no way of telling one from the other. A sad end to a wonderful thing.

I went to sleep last night with my 6-month-old computer running and it rebooted itself in the middle of the night for no real reason. Anything I hadn't saved would have been lost forever. In a year or so it will be completely obsolete and unusable. Someday I'll push the button to turn it on and it won't do anything at all. I have eight typewriters, and none of them are newer than 1970. And they all work.

I don't fear the changes of the computer world, or hard drive crashes, or power outages or upgrades. These things aren't my problem. My priorities are elsewhere.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Little Trouble

My scanner software isn't working with Windows 7. I was able to get by using a trial version of a program to scan pages in, but that's there won't be any more typecasts until I can reinstall everything. Might take a week or I'm still here, and I'll be back as soon as I can get things to work.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sigmund's issues.

The Hermes Rocket won't accept paper. I'm not really sure what's wrong with it, if there's a certain lever I'm missing or if it's blocked somehow, but for the life of me I can't get it to take paper. After struggling with it for a while, I got it to take one sheet at an angle, and when I typed a line and hit the return lever, it wouldn't go up by itself...I had to pull the paper up myself. It's weird, and reading the manual didn't enlighten me any. So I'll probably tinker with it some more and see if I can get it to work somehow...very strange.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

TC Typecast from Ignatius the '48 Remington Rand Portable De Luxe

TC Typecasts from Sigmund and Harry

Go Ahead...Make My Day.

Dirty Harry, late-1950s Royal Heritage typewriter.

Dirty Harry, early-1970s renegade cop.

The $15 thrift store typewriter was operational but dirty, the key tops were all covered in gunk. I gave them a good scrubbing, cleaned up the outside of the machine, and then gave it a light oiling. It still had the square Roytype Twin-Pak ribbons in it. I have no idea when those were last made. Luckily it also takes a standard ribbon, so I gave it a new one. Works fine as far as I can tell.

Keys look much better than before. These old typewriters just need a little love.

The Royal Heritage was sold exclusively by Montgomery-Ward stores beginning in about 1958. It's basically a Royal Futura 800 without touch control or pop-up paper supports. It's a weird brownish-gray, which seems to be the only color these came in. The Futura, however, was available in numerous color schemes. My favorite feature so far: push the "Royal" emblem on the front and the ribbon cover pops open. Outstanding.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sigmund, the 1950s Hermes Rocket

Hermes Rocket, 1950s green typewriter.Sigmund, 1970s green sea monster.

This is the newest addition to my family, the Hermes Rocket. These were made in Switzerland for several decades, this particular one in the mid-late 1950s. It's an excellent machine and I'm very happy to have gotten it for $25. It was destiny. About 10 pounds and very portable, this is the machine I'd take if I was traveling. Suffered from a few stuck keys when I got it, but there's nothing that a little 3-in-1 oil can't fix. I had an open call for names on Twitter and Facebook, the only stipulation being that it could not be called Kermit. Eventually I thought of a name myself. Cause you got to have friends...

TC Typecast

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

1955 Underwood Universal Quiet Tab

Typewriter Porn - 1955 Underwood Universal Quiet Tab

A great typewriter, but not perfect. In desperate need of a new ribbon, which I have just ordered. This was a $20 eBay "Buy it Now" item and I just got it in a few days ago. Very happy with it.


I've been doing a podcast called CRAZY LIKE A SNAKE at for the past several weeks. Topics vary but show #6 from a few weeks ago was all about typewriters. I'm adding a new segment at the end of new shows, also called "Typewriter Confessions", that details my experiences with my growing family of machines. They're released every Thursday, and show #8 is due this week. Check it out if you can.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Typewriter Porn - 1948-ish Remington Rand Portable De Luxe

The oldest and most troubled of my babies, yet still in working order. A good solid machine that I paid $13 for on eBay a while back. I think it's fantastic that I can still use this as originally intended despite the fact that it's over 60 years old. You think computers will last that long? Why don't I ask the iMac from 2001 that can't be upgraded past OSX 10.3.9? You know, the one that originally sold for $1500 but I got for $15...and I may have overpaid.

Typewriter Porn - 1960s Sears Citation 12

This baby is all metal. It's a rebadged Smith-Corona sold by Sears. I picked it up at a thrift store for $10 about six months ago. Fantastic condition. This was the first typewriter I'd used in nearly 20 years and it fueled my current obsession. Simply a wonderful machine.

Typewriter Porn - 1950s Smith-Corona Skyriter

Video shot by me of my latest machine that came in yesterday. Fantastic typewriter. I can't tell you how wonderful it is. I may weep openly.

Typewriter Confessions!

Click on the images. They become larger. Too large? It's all subjective in this crazy world. This is my blog where my typewriter obsession can thrive. It's everything about manual typewriters and nothing about electrics. Here's a word of advice: if you're going to use an electric, you might as well use a computer. You're fooling no one. I will not traffick in them or tolerate their presence here. That is all.