Sunday, May 18, 2014

Typing to the Stars

In addition to the Brother XL-800 that was dropped on my doorstep several weeks ago, I also received a plastic wedge.



We all have been given these by people who want to unload some junk. They are good machines for a purpose, but hardly collectible. There are a few that are interesting.



They might have lines that suggest a harsh modern future where everything was a little Bang and Olufsen.



Or they might have an LCD display.



Such was the situation with this typewriter.


It's none other than a Canon Typestar 5. An ultra-thin battery operated wedge that hosts two different typefaces, automatic centering, a correction system, and a novel thermal transfer printhead that works on standard office paper. Pretty swanky technology for the period. Alas, this one was missing both knobs and I was forced to make new ones out of Instamorph. My knobs look a little like albino jujubes, but they do the job. Originally there were flatter and matched the body color more closely.

This machine comes from a time that I readily remember. I come across one of these plastic wedges and I am immediately transported to the Electric Avenue section of Montgomery Wards. It's as if I had my own Midwest time machine powered by casseroles and Jello-molds.  It was a wonderland of word processors, computers, and electronic typewriters. These gleaming bits of consumerism were stacked in rows on neat and tidy shelves. It was a sight to behold.


What is it like to type on? It's like a computer. It feels digital. You feel removed front he typing act. At the end of the digital line the carriage zips across and prints a line. It's quiet and efficient and completely devoid of romance. I don't care for it at all.


Everything about this typewriter smacks of gadgetry. It's a fun little gadget to impress people, but can you use it for any length of time? I know that I rather use a good old mechanical machine, but it is fun to play around with something outside my collecting range.

The really interesting thing about Canon is that there is an interesting similarity between that company and Brother. I'll share more about that later. Now, I have to find a place for this thing. Luckily it it pretty small.

5 comments:

  1. "Reach for a star" or aim a little higher! I found a place for my Typestar 6 - I dropped it in my wheelie bin. It's good to give them a try though. :)

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  2. Hardly seems like it should count as a typewriter --- but it does, and we benefit from your experience and research.

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  3. I've never tried typing on one of those. I'm curious, actually.

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  4. it looks like a grown-up speak and spell... does it speak?
    I imagine you can hear its internal whirring. It'd be eerie if it was just quiet.

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  5. I must be odd, but I could easily find at least a couple of uses for such a small typewriter. My only concern when it comes to wedges is the availability of ribbons; other than that, I do find them interesting and useful pieces of equipment. Of course, this comes from a chap who still uses a Dymo label maker...

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