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19-9-2017 20:17:09  #1


Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

Hitting 76 in a couple of months, old age is better than the alternative but arthritis and other finger/hand hassles are increasingly taking their toll. I can still crank out pretty good speed on a computer, but as I discovered today as I was doing post-repair testing on a Hermes 3000, even a keyboard as nice and smooth as that one is really too cramped for my old fingers. The keys are simply too close together for accuracy and comfort, and I end up resorting to two finger punching instead of touch typing. I have a late 40's Royal Quiet DeLuxe and a what is supposed to be a very nice SC Silent Super coming in the next few days, but since they are portables too, I'm wondering how I'll deal with their keyboards. Are they "roomier" than the Hermes 3000, or the SM9? I guess I need to know what is the easiest keyboard in a manual standard for old folks like me to use? Doesn't have to be a portable, it will be used in my shop for labels, short notes, and miscellaneous stuff, so a big 'ol standard would be fine.Any advice appreciated. Thanks.

 

20-9-2017 09:43:08  #2


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

Key spacing, at least on standard typewriters, is fairly standard regardless of make/model, usually around 17 cm pinky-to-pinky on the home bank. The keys themselves can vary in size though, which might have an effect on your comfort and use. 

You haven't indicated where you're located in the world, but the Olympia SG1 is available in many countries and is considered by many collectors to be one of the best typewriters ever made. More important its keys are spring cushioned, which might be a benefit for you.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

20-9-2017 10:29:22  #3


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

I also think the shape (i.e. depth) of the keys can make a difference. By this I mean keytops that are as tall as they are wide (more of a rounded cube shape), such as with the Olympias and some of the later Royals, like the FP, seem for me to work better. It may be because they present a more substantial target for my clumsy fingers, unlike the thinner keytops found on e.g. the Royal HH. Uwe's recommendation of the SG1 is a sound one; I'll put in a pitch for the later SG3 as well, in addition to the FP.

 

20-9-2017 10:43:01  #4


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

Thanks, Uwe. Sort of along that line of thinking, I bought a nice looking SG1 this morning for $50. I hope it arrives without major problems, I'm probably not ready to dive into one of those yet. Out of curiosity I just measured the Microsoft keyboard I'm writing this on, and it's 20 cm from the left side of the "A" to the right side of the semicolon. That additional 3 cm feels significant, at least to my fingers. I hope the SG1 is at least a little roomier than the SM9, which is really butter-smooth to type on (once my brain gets past that long stroke), but on it my fingertips almost touch each other when on the home keys, and that drives me batty. 

     Thread Starter
 

20-9-2017 11:33:00  #5


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

Congrats on getting the SG1. You'll find some advice elsewhere on the forum about instructing sellers how to pack typewriters; there are lots of horror stories too, sadly. One thing you could ask the seller is to have them remove the carriage, since it cannot be locked in place for shipping (and it weighs a lot). Tell them to turn those two levers on the side of the machine in the direction away from the keyboard, and then the carriage should lift straight up pretty easily.

 

20-9-2017 11:42:45  #6


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

I have a Remington noiseless and this is actually one of the things I notice most when using it. The keys seem to spaced a little farther from each other than on other machines. 
It could be a function of my own hand size, my typing style, etc, but I notice it every time.

It's this one here.
https://i.imgur.com/8N87MwV.jpg

 

20-9-2017 12:20:50  #7


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

Well, it was apparently one of those super-conscientious sellers, because he already shipped the SG1. However, I did at least send him a note when I paid for it asking him to pack tightly and well padded. We'll see, I'll keep fingers crossed. I've had people ship me 80-lb military vacuum tube  radios from the 50's by having some UPS mailing place drop the radio in a big box of peanuts and seal it up. I hope this gentleman doesn't do that. 

I'm located in central Oklahoma, Uwe. Guess I need to fill out my profile form. And I'm with Schyllerwade on keys, I really like those old cupped glass topped metal-rimmed jobs from the early days. I learned to touch-type in the late 50's in a high school classroom full of big 'ol Underwoods with keys like that. Seemed easy then, but my fingers were 60 years younger, too. 

     Thread Starter
 

20-9-2017 13:49:36  #8


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

picker77 wrote:

... I just measured the Microsoft keyboard I'm writing this on, and it's 20 cm from the left side of the "A" to the right side of the semicolon.


​I wonder if your keyboard is wider than normal. My PC keyboard is 18.5 cm using your measurement parameters, which not surprisingly happens to be exactly the same for the SG1.

schyllerwade wrote:

... Remington noiseless ... The keys seem to spaced a little farther from each other than on other machines.

​They aren't. Pinky-to-pinky (center to center) it's 17.5 cm just like on most machines. The keys on that model are a little smaller than on some other typewriters so maybe that's giving you the impression they're spaced further apart.
machines.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

20-9-2017 14:22:05  #9


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

Yep, "a" center to ";" center on my MS keyboard is 18 cm, not that far off the "average" you mentioned. You probably have something there with the size of the key. If I had a preference, I'd go with smaller keys to give my fingertips more margin for error - I often tend to hit two at a time.I have a little Coronet Automatic 10 portable (with Elite typeface, don't know where they got the "10" from) that won't allow me to jam keys, so I can go like a bat out of hades on that thing. I still make my usual typos, but at least I don't have to waste time stopping and un-jamming keys. Heck, maybe I've just outlived using manual typewriters. But I still have hopes for this SG1 that's coming.

     Thread Starter
 

21-9-2017 11:45:43  #10


Re: Need recommendation for a roomy, easy typing keyboard

picker77 wrote:

I have a little Coronet Automatic 10 portable (with Elite typeface, don't know where they got the "10" from) ... maybe I've just outlived using manual typewriters.

​The '10' most likely indicates the width of the platen (there was a '12' version too).

​As for the rest of your comments, I can only suggest that you have a little patience. How many years have you been typing using a computer keyboard? It's simply what you're used to. With manual typewriters technique is key (pun intended), and good technique will come with use. It doesn't matter how much you used to use a typewriter; the electronic keyboard has unlearned all of that by now.

Given enough time and use you will become accustomed to using almost any manual typewriter - and become comfortable with its action and the feel of its keyboard. I use manual machines daily, and far more often than a computer keyboard, and actually prefer the more tactile experience of a mechanical machine than one gets from tapping those cheap, little plastic keys used to input text on a computer.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

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