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24-3-2021 15:14:47  #1

Electric versus Manual

As a newbie owing only one writer, I do need another one (or 17!!)  I grew up with manuals in high school and uni, must have used an electric once in a while in an office but have no memories of that.

I notice quite a lot of electrics for sale, but my gut feel is to avoid these because they could be perhaps impossible to repair should something go wrong.

For example, assuming a SC Coronet is in good working order, should I get it?  Or should I just keep looking for a (perhaps more reliable) manual of a good brand?


24-3-2021 19:52:45  #2

Re: Electric versus Manual

Hi Brozzy

My experience with electric type bar (not electronic daisywheel) typewriters has been pretty good, most of my electrics were given to me by thrift stores and the like because no one seemed to be interested in them. The Smith-Corona Coronets seem to have quite a good track record and they are not as old as many of the manual units out there. Just be aware that some electrics take regular ½" ribbon and some take the special side loading cassettes. I was lucky and scored a box of 10 new polythene ribbon, single pass cassettes for $20.00 a couple of years ago, still working with the first cassette.

The IBM Selectric's are a rock solid machine with the quick change font element, but once they get out of adjustment, they do require a specialist who knows the machines to tune them up again. They are also huge and take up a lot of desk space, but as this question is being posted in the Portable Typewriters sub-forum, I'm thinking you're probably not interested in one of those.

Other members here will have had different experiences and will have different opinions on electric typewriters. Everybody's opinion counts for something, my opinion is just one of many. We are a community here all trying to help each other and learn from each other. 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)

25-3-2021 10:04:25  #3

Re: Electric versus Manual

You wrote "assuming a Smith-Corona Coronet." Does this mean there's one for sale in your area?

The super-simple approach to your question would be to buy it and try it; if you enjoy using it, great, and if you don't you can always flip it and will have gained a new, first-hand experience for your efforts. This is of course assuming that the machine in question is inexpensive (<$50 CAD).

Even though I like electric typewriters, I rarely use them. I did learn to type on one (Selectric), and our home typewriter that I used for assignments in high school was a Smith-Corona Pride Line (below). My much older sister had to use a manual 5-series Smith-Corona Silent in her day (also below).  

An electric portable provides a different typing experience, but at the same time you still get all of the benefits associated with walking away from a computer when you want to write. The reasons my electrics don't see a lot of use is that I can't relax when I hear a motor humming in the background. The sound seems to demand constant action, it goads me to type continuously, and it's a reminder that when the power switch is on the machine is experiencing wear and tear.

The pronoun has always been capitalized in the English language for more than 700 years.

25-4-2021 15:34:26  #4

Re: Electric versus Manual

For productive writing sessions you cant beat a nice European made electric. The hum of the motor of my Report deluxe always gets me "in the zone". 

I wouldn't get a Selectric unless you want to spend the money for a refurbished one. They are always filthy. Always. I wouldn't bother cleaning one of those up if you payed me.

I am partial to my Report deluxe, since its the machine I used throughout school and I even wrote some of my final exams on that machine. There are lots of great electrics out there, and they are usually rock solid. I cant comment on american electrics since you dont get them around these parts. 

Learned watchmaker and office machine enthusiast from Germany.


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