Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Jitters the Coronet, or Calligraphy with a Jackhammer


Post-Script: These hybrid typewriters are very interesting, for they serve to remind us of the best and worst things about manual typewriters. I have a Galaxy 12 very much like this electrified Coronet and of the same era, and while I'd consider the Galaxy as a medium sized typer, it still has all the attributes of what I like about manual machines, which is their relative quietness, and the subtle, personal, direct nature of their operation.

The electric Coronet and manual Galaxy 12, side-by-side

I can carry the Galaxy 12 virtually anywhere (its weight is not that bad, even in its case), set it up and be typing away, no electricity needed. In comparison, not only is the Coronet needing a power source, but it gets rather warm with just its motor idling. Then there's the BAM-BAM-BAM of each letter, and the KERTHWACK of the power return, reminding you - and anyone else in the vicinity - that this isn't some subtle, private writing going on. This is like calligraphy with a jackhammer. And did I mention its weight?

With a manual typewriter, one gets that analog experience, like how the quality of experience in driving a stick shift is dependent on one's feel for the clutch. With a manual typewriter, there's an infinite range of intermediate levels of force and speed one can apply to the keys. It's subtle and very personal, even with the largest machine. You feel as if your fingers are directly connected to the type slugs, which they literally are, mechanically speaking.

You don't begin to appreciate this until you try on one of these hybrid electrified manuals, like this here Coronet. The keys are Boolean: OFF/ON - BAM! No intermediate analog grayness here. Even when idle, the thing sits there and hums - HUMS! As if to remind you that every second counts, every second you spend not typing is wasted electricity and wear on the internal parts; that if you have something to say, just say it, don't beat around the bush. Shyte or get off the pot. You can't easily do first-draft writing on these machines, I feel. They're too impatient, like how dare I wake them up, just for me to sit here and think. Thinking should be done elsewhere. We have no time for thinking. This here's a tool for Captains of Industry, not beret-clad writers, smoking their Gallouis.


Yes, I'll admit that this Coronet makes a nice, dark impression on paper every time. And I'm a sucker for machines that make dark imprints. And it's fast. It'll go as fast as I can accurately touch-type, with hardly a glitch. But what's most awesome about this machine and others like it is that it really represents the first step away from manual typewriters and toward the computer; you can sense it. It's a genetic hybrid, like the very first proto-land animal that crawled out of the ocean onto some ancient beach, with its subtly enhanced fins. It's not there yet, but you can see where it's going. The Boolean nature of the keys is already present at the outset; it's power-hungry and demands to be tethered to some infrastructure; and it's already become a bit impersonal, just like the damned computer.

If you want to regain your lost love for even the lowliest manual typewriter in your collection, get one of these hybrid electrics and keep it around, just to remind yourself how nice a manual writing machine can be.

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Blogger Ted said...

But it's an *interesting* experience, the Coronet Automatic. I enjoyed the $5 one that passed through my hands a couple of years ago. It is indeed very much like calligraphy with a jackhammer. :D

Surprisingly, these are popular with older buyers and they get snapped up pretty fast at the typewriter shop. not a tough machine to enjoy and then move quickly.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Steve K said...

The Coronet does look "fatter". I remember being surprised that my plastic shelled Adler Gabrielle 35 was heavier than the Galaxy 12 I once owned. Preferred the Adler and still have that one. :)

10:24 PM  

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