Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Handy Little Thing

The carriage for my HH was feeling a little sluggish so I called Bill at MTE to see if he could help me do some on-the-fly diagnosis. The problem is that the carriage grabs and feels heavy in the same place. Letters pile up and some spacing between letters can be dodgy.

I was able to walk through a few diagnistic things when Bill said, "You can take the tension by removing the drawband."

That was a good idea, but I only had two hands to do this and there is a good chance I would have lost control of the the drawband causing damage to my fingers and havoc to my typewriter.

Royal's engineers thought of that and provided a handy screw for temorarily affixing the drawband to the body.

I could see that this feature might also be helpful if you were trying to fit a new drawband.

My KMG, FP, and HH all have this little knobly screw. I would have to check the other Royal desktops when I get home, but this was new to me and I could see it being a handy little thing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Typewriters for Good: David Abraham and the Perkins

UPDATE: I seem to have forgotten a section I typed about the Foundation Writer. You will find more about this Brailler below.

Robert's fantastic post about the Hall typewriter really inspired this post. The question I had was simple; are there any tactile typewriters on this campus?
My first phone call was to Aileen, the Vision Specialist department chair. She said there are two students who use Braillers in-class and several other machines stationed around campus.

This morning I took a few minutes to stop by and see these interesting type-writers. Eve, one of the teachers who instructs students on their Braining, gave me a brief tutorial on how the machine works and some of the features it has.

In the short time I was working with these machines I realized how similar and how different they are to regular sighted typewriters. Simultaneously they are familiar and foreign.

Before I talk more about their operation I should talk about the brand of Brailler Alhambra students use. It's called the Perkins Brailler and it is a de-facto standard for non-sighted writing. The Perkins Brailler has an interesting history of its own.

Abraham was hired and his experience with mechanics (gained during the war) became well known to the administrators of the school. It was shortly after this that In conjunction with a math teacher at the school, Abraham was asked to address the problems Howe Press (Perkins' publishing house) was having with the Foundation Writer.

The Foundation Writer. This Brailler had a moveable carriage
which often caused alignment issues. Also, there were far too
many sticky-outy parts.

The embosser head. Pins from beneath the armiture press into
the paper to make a Braille impression

Eve demonstrating the unique process of rolling the paper into the machine.

Only sixty machines were delivered in the first year of production. The next year it was 800. The year after that; a thousand.
A young Perkins learner.

The Perkins Brailler was a success. It quickly became the standard for Braillers in American schools. Abraham himself gave the blind their own pen and pencil.
Children in Keyna learning on Perkins machines.

Today the Perkins Brailler is still made. There are new versions having USB connectivity and LCD screens, but the technology has remained in constant production.

The American Printing House for the Blind's version. Same as Howe's, but with a
lighter touch, high-contrast color, and longer keytops.

To finish out this Post, I wanted to share one of the good things about working with kids. Eva works with a very special student who is learning both Braille and English at the same time.

Her name is Meherta and she comes from Eretria, Africa. From everything I have heard she is excelling at both English and Braille. Her story is such a positive one that it makes me believe that so many good thingscan come from typewriters.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Olivetti Everywhere

No doubt you have seen notagain's fantastic British-made Olivetti M44. Someone described it as looking like a coating of marzipan had been draped over the frame. I couldn't agree more. If you look at an Olivetti you can see the hours that went into desginging the product. They were the Apple of their day.

My mind then turned to my own Olivetti.

The operation is still plagued by the clicking pawls and when I have more than a few moments, I'll give them a closer look.

I tried to find some more information about this typewriter, the internet is silent. What I can find seems to repeat the same information over and over; it's electric and it came with an optional carbon ribbon attachment. I like the Italian name for a carbon ribbon; Carbongrafica.

There are a few advertisments from the era that give a sense to the size and heft of this typewriter.

The cantilevered keyboard that you can see on the front of the Lexicon 80E is replicated in the Praxis.

Olivetti's design roots really run deep.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Understanding an Underwood

This is the only Underwood that I have in my home collection and I can't say that I love the touch right now. There is something gumming up the typebar. In reality I can only type about 10 words per minute, but the few bars that are free seem very responsive. The platen is shameful, but I expect that at nearly 77 years old, you wouldn't be tip-top anymore.

You're right, Typecast Ryan. This little typewriter has some classic lines.

I know that Underwood was thinking that having the touch selector move up for a lighter touch and down for a softer touch was a  stroke of genius. Sorry, boys. Up should be more tension. Down should be less tension. Be equating the switch with the sensation tends to mix up me up considering Underwood is alone in this nuttiness.


On a final note, wouldn't The Typebar be a cool name for a vintage-inspired watering hole? Drink names would be fun. I would suggest you try a Dry Ribbon, a Pitted Platen, or the Segmented Shift.

Friday, October 19, 2012

4.6 Million Words...Maybe

So, it's good news for the typewriters and the students, but bad news for my Netflix Poirot addiction. Yes, I am a mystery nerd. I will let my students make a decision about their own work, but I will be sharing my progress on this very blog. I can say that I am more than a little nervous. Also, as you can see by the badge, I am in the youth-y version of NaNo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I had finished all my work for the day and I started walking around my classroom looking at all the typewriters on shelves. My eye was drawn to the lowly shift key. So much depends on the shift. A new sentence cannot begin without it. Passions are expressed with shift. The greatest questions of our lives are echoed only with the shift key. 

A shift in perception.

Graveyard shift.

Leftist shift.

Paradigm shift.

A comfortable shift.

Clearly a shift to the right.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Remington 12 Typeface

So, there were requests that I share the typeface from the newest typewriter in my collection. It's not exotic or exciting, but I like it. I even make a shopping list today on this very machine.