Typewriters & Word Processors
Dates from The Typewriter Database. Type samples at 600dpi.


Machines with changeable type-heads don't have consistent character sets, as they were produced for different markets (US / UK / International), so even common shapes such as brackets "[" & "]" might not appear, or be mapped to different keys.


Corona 3 ("Export" Version)

Serial Number 438546 (January 1922)

Classic lightweight portable that was one of the most popular machines ever made, this particular one is in very fine condition with only a couple of very small chips to the paintwork, and perfect decals accompanying key-tops that haven't yellowed too much with age the way many others have (they are not as creamy as they appear in these photographs). Unfortunately, the case was damaged in transit and the already fragile fabric that forms the hinge of the drop-down section to the bottom tore right off, leaving it completely loose; any repair would be so obvious as to make matters worse, so it's probably best left alone even though it means the case can no longer close properly and so has to remain lying down. The keyboard itself is a little narrower than usual, measuring ~165mm (6½") from centre-Q to centre-P, rather than ~172mm (6¾"), though it's only slightly noticeable.

L. C. Smith & Corona 4 "Professional"

Serial Number V5A02977-T (September-October 1930)
[V=Duco Black, 5=Sep-Oct, A=1930, T=Tabulator (hence the "Professional")]

Very good example of this typewriter which was available in a wide variety of finishes, often with contrasting colours between the body and crinkled panels, though plain versions were also produced. This one is glossy black all over, with minor wear to some of the decals, and though the case is a little battered on the outside, the inside is extremely clean with a lovely patterned fabric that is a very shiny and finely-woven version of the second image of this illusion.

Olympia SM4 Deluxe

Serial Number 1385932 (February 1959)

Stunning machine in 'as new' condition with untarnished chrome and metalwork throughout, this was so little used there was no ink on the fractions and most of the punctuation, and half of the letters did not seem to ever have been struck; even the plastic cover was in perfect condition without tears, and though the slightly worn bulky case had a lot of stains on the outside (that were easy to scrub off), the inside was very clean and still had all of the accessories. This model has a subtle crinkled green finish without a single chip or mark, and a 13" wide carriage with tabs set and cleared via the keyboard rather than moving sliders or placing keys into slots at the back. The build quality and attention to detail is superb, for even the plastic paper grips flanking the ribbon are on lightly-sprung hinges, and there is a latch on one of the case's hinges so the lid doesn't slide off very time, but only disengages when required.

Smith Corona Zephyr Deluxe

Serial Number 6YZ318092W (1970s)

Mint condition lightweight portable based on a rather flimsy mechanism that was reused many times in various often colourful shells and under different names, with only minor changes and an occasional new function such as power-space. The original models of Zephyr and Zephyr Deluxe were produced from 1938 to 1941, but the name was reused a few decades later for this along with the Zephyr II, so dating it has proven difficult. As can be seen from the sample, this particular machine has many of the letters slanting a bit to the left, with a very uneven baseline.

IBM Correcting Selectric II Model 82c

Serial Number 895-581878661 (<1977)
[8 = 800 Series, 9 = Dual Pitch Correcting, 5 = 13" Carriage]

Refurbished golfball typewriter in full working condition, this has only a few minor marks to indicate its age, though the original finish seems to have been somewhat rough to start with. The exact date is uncertain as US production ceased in 1975 and Canadian in 1977 (the fact the serial number plaque is on right rather than left seems to indicate the latter although this machine is for the UK market), but in either case their numbers do not go as high as this one, whilst a label outside indicates it was set up on 28 January 1980. Being a model II it can use both 10pt & 12pt type-heads, has correction facilities, and a wheel next to the main switch to adjust impact strength in addition to the normal lever beside the head. It is of course a very heavy machine, but it's also quite fast, and by far the noisiest I have, both in terms of the motor and the actual sound of impact. Those fonts marked # are from IBM (UK), the others from GP (US)

Smith Corona Galaxie Twelve

Serial Number 6MLC380111H (c1977)

This model has none of the usual marks on the sides where people have scraped off paint when moving the top sliding section to replace the ribbons and clean the keys (and it's free from the worse 'solution' of placing various kinds of tape all over the edges); there are only a very few slight scratches at the back where it engages with the locking lug on the bottom of the suitcase, so overall it's in fine condition. The 1! and += keys have different-coloured tops because they can be changed to suit whatever the type-bars have been set to, for different markets. For what is a large and heavy desk-top device presumably meant for prolonged use on a daily basis, it has a remarkably lightweight mechanism that seems to be little more than a rehoused version of that used in the Zephyr above.

Olympia Report Deluxe

Serial Number 46-0231361 (1978)

A high quality electric machine in excellent condition, this has a large and very crisp typeface with somewhat elongated characteristics (see especially the 'T', 'F' & 'L'). As with most electrics of the period, there is a faint humming from the motor which is only noticeable in a quieter home environment, but the advantage is gained in having the letters typed at a consistent impression, and of course it's a very fast machine to use.

Smith Corona EC1100

Serial Number 39324582 (1983)

Daisywheel typewriter in perfect cosmetic condition, and now I've coated the carbon pads with a special conductive paint, all of the keys work perfectly instead of a few mis-firing occasionally. This is a gorgeous machine to use, and aesthetically it has very clean lines from all angles.

Brother WP-6

Serial Number 013249266 (1989)

Tank of a machine with a small wide-screen (200mm × 85mm, 7¾" × 3¼") CRT of amber colour rather than the usual garish green (and no burn-in), this allows for either direct typewriter mode or use as a word-processor with small files saved to the 3½" floppy drive (an early model which is only single-sided single-density). There were some very bad design decisions made for this machine, so it's remarkable that none of the lugs and hinges were broken during normal use (I was fortunate to purchase it with the original box and packing), for the main paper guide and width settings are performed on a flap that hinges back to become what is then the bottom when it's standing up, as well as acting as a loose cover for the mains lead (thankfully this particular example was stored horizontally with the keyboard folded up closed). The vast depth is mostly taken up by the print mechanism and tape cartridge rather than the CRT, so much of that part is actually empty space for things to move in, and of all the Script fonts I have this is my favourite, especially with the rather whimsical "Shepherd's Crook" of the 'p' and the floating tops of the 'F' and 'T'.

Panasonic KX-W940

Serial Number 4LAUA10254U (1980s)

Another daisywheel typewriter, this portable (rather than luggable) version comes with an 80 character LCD screen allowing what was then considerable review of content before printing or filing to the floppy drive (a slightly newer single-sided, double density device); there are also fairly sophisticated mail-merge and address list functions, spell-checking, and stop codes to allow manual intervention to an otherwise automated printout, as well as the creation and storage of templates for margin settings and so on. It was purchased BNIB with all of the protective plastic and carriage-locks still in place, so it's in pristine condition, and uses the same kind of tape cartridge as the Brother, with much of the mechanism beneath the hinged paper-guide and fold-down display.


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