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05-2-2018 13:47:05  #1


Defining difference between Standard and Portable machines

Hi there!
 
Just wondering. Is there an identifiable mechanical difference between Standard and Portable machines? Something to the effect of “no portable typewriter uses a ______ mechanism, as almost all standard machines use.” Right now, I’m at a point where, much like Justice Stewart in the famous obscenity trial, when it comes to the difference between Standard and Portable typewriters, “I know it when I see it,” though I’m not sure if I could really define it, short of a qualifier-laden list of generalities. I understand that office machines are larger, they have more features, etc, but my knowledge of their mechanics is not particularly good. Something bugs me about the idea that the distinction could just be arbitrary. For example, I’m sure there are standard machines that are light enough that I could, if I had a case for them, lug it around and call it portable, and I’m sure there are some extra-hefty portables that some people would find too cumbersome to ever label as such. Just curious. Thanks!


There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. -- Ernest Hemingway
 

05-2-2018 15:18:15  #2


Re: Defining difference between Standard and Portable machines

I go to the simplest distinction -- was the typewriter sold with a carrying case when new? If not, it's a standard-sized machine. Sure, you can put a standard machine in some sort of carrying case, but that's not how it came from the factory, because it wasn't intended to be lugged around but rather planted on a desk, more or less permanently.

I can't think of any features that clearly denote an office standard machine from a portable, since the delineation gets blurred. For example, a tabulator function can be found on both portables and standards, but I think (and someone check me here) that all standards from the 1930s forward, and perhaps earlier, have this feature. I'm not talking about the keys for 100s, 1,000s etc, which are specialized for accounting machines (standards only, at that).

Also, machines with 88 characters seem to only be standards. And machines with three ribbon positions in addition to stencil, and paper injectors seem to only be standards. But these are rather unusual features regardless, and there may be exceptions of which I'm not aware.

 

05-2-2018 15:46:25  #3


Re: Defining difference between Standard and Portable machines

Fleetwing wrote:

I go to the simplest distinction -- was the typewriter sold with a carrying case when new? If not, it's a standard-sized machine. Sure, you can put a standard machine in some sort of carrying case, but that's not how it came from the factory, because it wasn't intended to be lugged around but rather planted on a desk, more or less permanently.

I can't think of any features that clearly denote an office standard machine from a portable, since the delineation gets blurred. For example, a tabulator function can be found on both portables and standards, but I think (and someone check me here) that all standards from the 1930s forward, and perhaps earlier, have this feature. I'm not talking about the keys for 100s, 1,000s etc, which are specialized for accounting machines (standards only, at that).

Also, machines with 88 characters seem to only be standards. And machines with three ribbon positions in addition to stencil, and paper injectors seem to only be standards. But these are rather unusual features regardless, and there may be exceptions of which I'm not aware.

Yah, that's about where I'm at. And that's basically my distinction as well... I guess if it was intended as a Standard it's a standard and the other way around. 

But with how much I've heard about the improved typing action and speed of Standards, I guess I assumed that the mechanisms might be different. 


There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. -- Ernest Hemingway
     Thread Starter
 

06-2-2018 09:36:41  #4


Re: Defining difference between Standard and Portable machines

Fleetwing wrote:

... I'm not talking about the keys for 100s, 1,000s etc, which are specialized for accounting machines (standards only, at that). ... And machines with three ribbon positions in addition to stencil, and paper injectors seem to only be standards. But these are rather unusual features regardless, and there may be exceptions of which I'm not aware.

​I like your classification process for the two types of machines; it's simple and it works. 

​Just to comment on the quoted bits, there were portables with decimal tabulators (Voss comes to mind), four position vibrators (Hermes 3000 is a popular example), and paper injectors (I have a Brother on my desk at the moment that has one). Those are, as you pointed out, exception features for a standard, and even more so for a portable.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

06-2-2018 11:01:19  #5


Re: Defining difference between Standard and Portable machines

It doesn't seem so simple to me. I don't think you can distinguish between standards and portables on the basis of features; it has to be on the basis of manufacturer's intention and beholder's impression, and that's not definitive either. Olivers were delivered in a case with a handle and nobody would call them portable; I have at least one Sears portable, delivered in a case with a handle, that has a paper injector. The only feature I haven't seen on a portable is the decimal tabulator and (a) maybe I just haven't seen it yet, and (b) it's not a distinguishing feature of standards anyway since most do not have dec tabs. I can't think of one thing that one class definitely has that the other reliably does not.

OP tricnomistal originally wondered about the mechanisms, the links and springs presumably, rather than features, and here I think the picture is even more cloudy. There is so much variety in both categories that I think there is no clear answer to the question. The only thing likely to emerge is the idea that the standards have more room to work with and so the machinery can be larger, more rigid, there is more freedom to design the links and springs to take advantage of cleverer leverage. OTOH, portables are often described as compromises (especially ultraportables) required by the constraints on size and weight demanded by the market. Even so, there is nothing definite about the mechanisms in a standard that distinguishes it from a portable---they're both all over the map.

The standards came first (note the name) and the portables developed from them and then both continued development more or less independently. Look at the patent and repair manual drawings to get a feel for how many designs there are. Yeah, I think we have to accept that it's arbitrary.

 

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