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27-9-2018 19:20:12  #1

Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

I happen to have very old issues of Consumer Reports which I use to research old camera, stereo equipment and so on, but I discovered that the 1972 article evaluating portable low priced manual typewriters to be somewhat enlightening.  I am aware that CR is not the perfect avenue in evaluating all things but it is a guide.  I will list the typewriters (all from the early 70’s era) as they do in order of their estimate of overall quality( judged by typists and CU’s engineers).  Of course there are many typewriters that were not evaluated.  I am not going into detail as it is extensive and too much to post here. Now that 46 years have gone by I wonder how the ratings would stack up today.
The following were rated Very Good.
[*]Adler J5, check rated.
[*]Olympia SM9-13 and SM9,  check rated.
[*]Hermes 3000-13 and Hermes 3000, check rated( most expensive at $145 and $130 respectively).
[*]Penncrest Caravelle 12 and Penncrest Caravelle 10 (made by SCM).
[*]Smith-Corona Galaxie 12 and Smith-Corona Galaxie Deluxe .
[*]Eaton’s Viking Deluxe 10.
[*]Smith-Corona Sterling and Smith-Corona Super Sterling.
[*]Facit 1624 and 1622.
[*]Royal Custom III.
The following were rated Good.
[*]Brother Activator 899.
[*]Sears Malibu.
[*]Hermes Rocket.
[*]Adler Tippa S.
[*]Underwood 450, Ward Escort 66, and Olivetti 45.
[*]Sears Newport  and Sears Newport 12.
[*]Sears Chevron II.
[*]Brother Charger 22.
The following were rated only Fair to Good.
[*]Olivetti Lettera 33 and Wards Escort 33.
[*]Olivetti Lettera 32
[*]Olivetti Lettera 31
The following were rated Fair.
[*]Olympia SF Deluxe.
[*]Smith-Corona Corsair Deluxe.
[*]Remington Monarch 1 and Remington Monarch 2
[*]Underwood 18.
[*]Remington Streamliner.


28-9-2018 02:55:29  #2

Re: Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

I must admit, I am surprised that the Olympia SF got such a low rating.  I don't rate the SCM Corsair at all, and it was only slightly lower in the list than the Olympia SF !   As a typewriter engineer, I would venture to say that it is the best flat portable of the lot !  I do agree that the Olivetti Lettera 32 etc are OK but a bit over-rated so a 'fair to good' category might be nearer the mark.


28-9-2018 14:40:09  #3

Re: Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

I too am surprised to see the SF and the Corsair lumped together - having used both I would hardly call it a fair fight!  

There are a lot of department store brands on this list - is there any way for us to know which models these are.  I assume most are probably made by Smith-Corona?  I'm sure a scan of the article would make for interesting reading.


28-9-2018 15:05:24  #4

Re: Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

My guess is the Sears brand was made by Brother.  SCM made the Pennys brand.  Ollivetti seems to have made the Wards brand.  If someone knows otherwise feel free to correct me.  My apologies for the poor initial post as I put everything in looked great but when transferred to the forum it looks awful.

     Thread Starter

28-9-2018 19:36:27  #5

Re: Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

Hi Typewriterman

Here's where you and I tend to see tools and machinery from a different angle to Joe average public. I've been self employed as a small engine mechanic since 2000 and was a diesel mechanic before then. When reading consumer reports and the like, opinions are often based on price, looks and feel as opposed to engineering integrity and life expectancy. Some of the best consumer rated string trimmers out there are basically junk. They're an absolute pain to service and hard to get parts to fix them. By the time the machine is fixed, the repair bill often comes to ¾ the price of a new one.

If these typewriters were rated by professional office workers and service technicians, I'm sure you'd see a much different line up based on serviceability, reliability and performance. Price and appearance probably wouldn't even enter the judging criteria. Much the same with hand held and walk behind equipment, the professional grounds care companies don't even darken the door of the big box stores. They want machines that are reliable, rugged and serviceable by a local shop or in-shop mechanic. At least these are my thoughts on this thread. Take care and all the best,


We humans go through many computers in our lives, but in their lives, typewriters go through many of us.
In that way, they’re like violins, like ancestral swords. So I use mine with honor and treat them with respect.
I try to leave them in better condition than I met them. I am not their first user, nor will I be their last.
Frederic S. Durbin. (Typewriter mania and the modern writer)

29-9-2018 02:34:43  #6

Re: Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

Well said Sky !  The SCM Corsair is a popular vintage typewriter and fetches good prices on e-bay at Christmas.  Why ? Because it is pretty !  Back in the 1970's when they were nearly new, it was the only make/model that I told customers that I wouldn't give a repair guarantee on because they were so unreliable.  Having fixed one fault, they would be back the following week with a different one, expecting it to be fixed for free all over again !  But it remains a popular choice purely because of the styling of the casing !  By the way, the larger Galaxy etc., is a different machine and acceptable by modern standards though not up to German build quality of course.  As for the SCM portable electrics like the Electra - don't go there !


30-9-2018 15:12:11  #7

Re: Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

Consumer reports advertised itself as an unbiased and objective tester of consumer products. How close they came to this ideal I am not sure but I am moderately confident these typewriter reviews were based on something other than look, feel and styling.  As for price, that would not enter into an evaluation of quality, reliability and function, but would enter into a consideration of value, which is a reasonable thing to consider unless money is no object: a product which scores 90% as high as the top quality products on other scales at 50% of the price is a better value.

They were right on the money with the SM9 and Hermes 3000 in terms of 2018 value and reliability as in 1972, from what I see. I have no basis to form an opinion on the Adler.


28-9-2019 08:25:41  #8

Re: Consumer Reports article on manual typewriters, 1972

I own four Penncrest machine and the ones I have are made by SCM.


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