Typewriter Talk

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02-12-2016 17:21:35  #1


Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

I recently bought a Smith-Corona 5100 and love it. The typing samples are beautiful, and the seven different printwheels are only $8 each. It also has a lever for changing from 10- to 12-pitch, and keys for erasing typos, either by character or whole words. Feel, of course, can't be compared to that of a manual, but I think some of these are great machines.

 

02-12-2016 18:16:59  #2


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

I've had several electronic jobs myself, and yes, they are real pros at what they do.  You can not only change from pica to elite, but some you can even have proportional spacing.  You have things like autoreturn, and you can even justify the right hand margins to where they're squared off just like the left side.

Now, the reason they get such short shrift is because a lot of people don't understand them.  The users sometimes get confused with them (or they did whenever they came into offices for the first time in the eighties).  I remember my Great Aunt, who was a secretary for many years, fell in love with her IBM Wheelriter once she got to know it better.  And then there are those of us collectors, not naming names or indicting anyone here, that are dyed-in-the-wool manual typewriters only.  I can understand that, since this technology is the one they know, and they know it very well.  Me, I'm open to all.  However, if something really big should break down on an electronic machine, such as an E-prom chip or any of the other discrete components, I just don't have the tools to troubleshoot down to where to find the problem, but I can tell you this, overheard by an older television repairman:  You start unsoldering and soldering parts, you're going to be fixing on the unit for the rest of its life.  When a part becomes weak, it will weaken other parts, and when that weak part is replaced with a stronger part, it will continue to weaken the parts made weak by the originally weak part. 

I am definitely not saying that all electronic typewriters are doomed to this fate.  In fact, I have seen some to last quite a long time, and most of the time, it's a mechanical issue that would hang one up.  Oh they're a joy to use--just don't tinker with the insides too much.


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

02-12-2016 21:11:04  #3


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

I can't speak for other enthusiasts, but for me electronic typewriters (not to be confused with electro-mechanical models) are far too similar to using a computer. They consume hydro (and in that regard cost money to run), most of them require proprietary ribbons, and none of them provide any of the tactile pleasures that make mechanical typewriters a joy to use. I own quite a number of electro-mechanical typewriters, mostly out of curiosity and interest in specific models, but not one electronic typewriter. If I was to go down that path I would rather just fire up the computer and have a far greater variety of typefaces to choose from and incomparable better control over any document that I wanted to produce. 


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

03-12-2016 06:36:37  #4


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

Well clearly the progression goes

mechanical typewriter => electromechanical typewriter => electronic typewriter => valley of lost souls

Near the edge of the valley a small group of standalone word processors chitters among the rocks and fall upon travelers whom they believe may carry 8 inch floppies.

It's a matter of personal taste which of these critters you enjoy. I admit to a guilty pleasure in electromechanicals - losing the immediate tactile feedback of the manual they still sound like typewriters, write like typewriters, and I just find at least one a lot of fun, but then it is a hulking glowering office machine which I think is part of its charm. I don't like the little ones much.

This post has no point at all but I'm going to post it anyway...

 


"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton".
 

03-12-2016 11:09:50  #5


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

Electronic typewriters get short shrift on this forum because it was started by and attracts people who like the older designs for whatever reasons, and there are many reasons. If you find a forum catering to electronic typewriters, you'll find they get a lot of respect.

There are substantial differences between the two categories and these tend to keep them apart. The only major similarities are the keyboard and the fact of immediate printing and the word "typewriter".

The differences are legion: styling, materials, visibility of mechanism, nostalgia and other links to other eras, historical connections of many kinds, (dare I say it?) hipster affectations, repairability and tinkerability, recognition of others when used as decoration, and so on....

Some of the things held against electronic typewriters are: mostly plastic construction often prone to breakage, uninspired aesthetic design, a delay between keypress and printing that some of them suffer from and which prevents attaining a rhythm, serious difficulty of repair to the electronics, lack of "famous author" cachet, scarcity of some kinds of ribbon cartridges, need for electricity, and what else?

Advantages of electronic typewriters include: availability, low price, changeable typefaces, quiet operation, good quality of print, and greatly increased functionality (memory, centering, right justification, editing, correction, boldfacing, etc.), ....

Interestingly, none of those advantages impress people who just like old stuff.

 

03-12-2016 23:02:35  #6


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

It all depends on the school of thought you subscribe to.  For instance, do you collect typewriters because certain ones--mainly older manuals--have a certain "je ne sais quoi," and the newer, more modern electronic machines just don't have the same flavor?  Do you collect typewriters because you want to take up writing?  Or do you collect typewriters simply  because punching keys and wondering about all the things this machine or that machine can do appeals to you, regardless of antiquity or value?  I fall into that third category.  Yes, each era of typewriters is going to have it own "ambience" as it were.  The straight manuals, the mechanical-electrics, the electronics, right up to the great piece de resistance of the Great Charles Babbage--the Computer.


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

04-12-2016 00:15:03  #7


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

Greetings All

​Just had to chime in on this one. I enjoy using all genre of typewriters, daisy wheels too. If you have a print wheel unit with memory capability, and you know a friend or relation coming to visit, here's what I do. Write a letter to them directly into memory and save it as a file. When they come over, ask them if you can type them a letter, you'll often get a bewildered look from them. Then you set the machine in front of them and set the unit to type from the file, and a letter appears as they're watching.

​What also holds true about these electronic units is the reparability or lack there of. My father-in-law's Brother GX-6000 has been to the repair shop 4 times so far and still isn't working. I found a good used GX-6000 on eBay in Quebec, so I'm having it shipped directly to him. Hopefully this unit will last him for as long as he needs it. His old GX-6000 is probably close to 30 years old and has seen a lot of use. It also got knocked onto the floor at least once back in the early 1990's by his foster-son.

​Therefore one would have to say that they were excellent for their intended use, have a nice light touch for an 86 year old's frail hands and don't require computer skills in order to use. But you might as well forget about ever trying to repair them. All the best,

Sky

 

05-12-2016 12:55:18  #8


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

I had trouble at first reconciling my love of manuals with electronics. My girlfriend didn't improve the situation: she keeps saying I'm having fun with my new computer. But what draws me to electronics are the beauty and neatness of their typefaces. I love different typefaces: that's one reason I collect typewriters. Eventually (this took time) I concluded that I have days where I prefer typeface over feel, and others where I prefer feel: it's that simple. There also practical considerations: when I need to write as typo-free document, I will invariably use the electronic, which beeps when it encounters a typo and has erase functions. In those instances, efficiency is of the essence. Electronics will never replace my manuals, but they are typewriters and I find them exciting, too.

     Thread Starter
 

09-12-2016 18:52:21  #9


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

typeset wrote:

I had trouble at first reconciling my love of manuals with electronics. My girlfriend didn't improve the situation: she keeps saying I'm having fun with my new computer. But what draws me to electronics are the beauty and neatness of their typefaces. I love different typefaces: that's one reason I collect typewriters. Eventually (this took time) I concluded that I have days where I prefer typeface over feel, and others where I prefer feel: it's that simple. There also practical considerations: when I need to write as typo-free document, I will invariably use the electronic, which beeps when it encounters a typo and has erase functions. In those instances, efficiency is of the essence. Electronics will never replace my manuals, but they are typewriters and I find them exciting, too.

Now that's what I call a well-rounded philosophy--enjoy the good in all of it.  And this is definitely true in the world of typewriters--there's good and bad in all of it--and it's up to all of us to "separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream."
 


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

21-12-2016 09:10:43  #10


Re: Why do electronic typewriters get short shrift?

I keep two electronic machines ready at all times in my office. When I need to address envelopes they don't fight me on the feed as some of my manuals do.  The carriage is stationary, so I can be a messy pig- no need to keep the carriage area clear.  Quick change typeface with the print wheels.  Finally, I got into collecting in part because I'm very interested in the technologies from the 50s through the 80s.  

When typing letters I grab a manual 90% of the time.  So... I like 'em both!  ~Tom~

http://​WrongWayWriteWay.com 


Right on the lake in Erie PA. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.gif
 

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