Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Olympia SM9

Olympia SM9

Frontal view:

Rear view, note the dealer sticker from Olympia Typewriter Service Co. in ABQ.

This machine was made in 1978, the second to the last year the SM9 were made. This was nearly the end of the manual typewriter era, at least for the German-made Olympias.

So, how does it type you might wonder? Well, currently I only have an SM3 to compare it with, and there were many years between these two machines. I've also had two other SM9s and this machine feels very much like what I remember of those: not as tight and crisp as the early SMs, but a solid, competent typing machine.

And along with what I remember of those other SM9s, this one also exhibits intermittent spacing issues on the first letter of a word after a space. Not very often, but enough to be bothersome. I believe it's a combination of something intrinsic to the design or setup of these machines (given that all three had the same problem), and my typing style (though I've also used two-finger instead of touch-typing and have gotten the same intermittent issues). See the word "not" in the first line of the last paragraph, above; these machines just don't like a staccato typing style, but work better with a rhythmic cadence, like what a typist is ideally supposed to do, but in the real world hardly ever does to perfection. It's problems like these that make the later SM9s less than the One Perfect Machine, for me that is. They aren't very tolerant of a sloppy typing style. As to the earlier SMs, the SM3-8 generations were probably the finest of the Olympia SM series in terms of build quality and the "feel" of the machine, at least in my experience and that of others I've talked to.

These later SM9s have a very utilitarian, modern look to them. Stern-faced, corporate, button-down shirts, no laughing matter, just get the work done; and they were built to do just that. No nostalgic style cues from some earlier era, these were built for the sober post-war business machine age.

The best I can tell, it has a Modern Pica type face. Very pleasing in appearance.

There's a good chance this machine spent its entire life here in ABQ, since being sold at that Olympia dealer. It looked like it never even sat in a dusty garage, instead most likely some bedroom closet. Even the internals of the machine showed little dust, a minor miracle here in the dry, windy American southwest. Also no signs of eraser crumbs, White Out grunge on the plastic card guides or white cover-up correction flakes in the machine, just pristine cleanliness. Amazing.


Blogger Ted said...

Very nice! One note - SM8 is just an SM9 without the keyset tabulator, so it should act like a 9 insofar as typing action. It's the SM-7 that is perfection. :D

9:12 PM  
Blogger Bill M said...

Congratulations! I had a similar one I bought at a local thrift store. It now lives in the neighbor's house. I find the later SMs not as nice as the early ones.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Diane Maher said...

I like the design, color and style of this model over the earlier ones with the white keys and turquoise blue accents.

8:41 PM  
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A real bargain!

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