Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Nipping at the Type Bar

Olympus Reporter
“Nipping at the Type Bar”

This is about as real-world and gritty as it gets: Jitters, my former electric type-bar 6-series Smith-Corona, now in its new home:

SCM Coronet Automatic 12

My brother is about as far-removed from a writer as you could imagine. Yet here he is, enthused about his new typewriter and immensely enjoying tapping out stories from his colorful life. I've tried to give him some encouragement, while also letting him have the freedom to write just the way he wants to write, to conform to no man's idea of what writing should be like. It's the joy of creating words to paper that he's discovering, while it's also sometimes painful for him to recall in detail some of the trauma he's experienced. It's typewriter therapy; some of us need it more desparately than others -- another good reason to give away a machine to someone who needs it.

I'm humbled by the opportunity to bring this gift into his life, that promises to help blossom some as yet unseen potential hidden within him.

Here's Jitters next to the blue manual Galaxie Twelve of the same era. Definitely a family resemblence:


Speaking of family typewriters, this is a good opportunity to show off the family Hermes 10, which I need to get back and do a video review of.


It's interesting to see similarities with the Hermes 3000, especially in the carriage area and the six function buttons above the keyboard. This really is like the electric version of the 3000. And also represents the Venn Diagram overlap between the Cults of Hermes and Type Bar Electrics. Because I'm ecumenical that way!

My video review of the Olympia Reporter:

I hinted above of something I've been toying with for a while now: using the right platen knob to do a carriage return. I first tried this with the little Hermes Rocket, only because its carriage return "lever" is such a diminutive afterthought, as reaching back with my left hand to the rear of the machine seems so awkward, whereas simply pulling the right platen knob fully to the right, then giving it a spin one or two clicks, seems easier and quicker. This sounds like sacrilige, not using the machine's controls properly. But in the case of my Olympia Reporter, the drive belt is slipping and the machine won't complete the return cycle on its own, while lacking a manual return lever.

Smith-Corona 5TE

Type bar electrics represent the red-headed step-children of the typewriter collecting world. Other than the blue Smith-Corona 5-series Electric with its snazzy raised red logo on front, or the pre-war IBM machines, few others of this ilk garner much praise or desire amongst the Typosphere -- at least, that's my impression. Yet they remain the evolutionary end-state of type bar machines; what came after were daisywheel and thermal electronic machines, then the computer revolution hit hard. Yet type bar electrics are entirely practical machines, offering the economy of cloth ribbons while needing virtually no finger pressure to operate, able to perform at blindingly fast speeds -- certainly faster than I can type with any degree of accuracy.

How about you: do you share a secret history, or fascination with, these electrified hybrid marvels? I'd like to hear your story. Leave a comment down below. Thanks.



Blogger Bill M said...

Your comment on 10th grade typing class brought back memories from mine. Mine are how much I hated that manual machine to which I was assigned when all the business students got fancy IBM Selectrics or other electrics. It was not so much the machine as it was the requirement that all of the college bound group got manuals and had to type at least as fast as the electrics. To prove to the teacher she was wrong some of us stayed after class and took the same speed test on electrics and beat our speed by at least 10 w.p.m.! She still would not admit to the speed difference even after she could not type as fast and accurate on a manual. Accuracy also improved. Now all I have and use are manual typewriters.

The Olympia Reporter looks like the electric version of my Olympia Carina 2.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

Yep, I've enjoyed a few Electric typebars (:


2:37 PM  
Blogger aphexian said...

Great post Joe. The part about your brother using his typewriter as “typewriter therapy” really hit home, as that is exactly the reason I am so enthralled with writing both on typewriters and with pens myself. Also, your comment about being enthused about some new idea or novelty I can totally relate to as well, as that is essentially how I rotate through my various hobbies and interests. -Mitch

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Gregory Short said...

I found myself finally getting around to doing another blog post today... with my Olympia X-L12. I took the We R Memory Keepers black/brown ribbon from the Singer Professional T-62 (Royal Safari) and had fun typing in brown on the Olympia. It still sprays the page with ink as it slaps the ribbon so hard, but it's not as noticeable as the black/red ribbon. We'll just say it gives the typed page "character".

9:13 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home