Saturday, July 23, 2016

Typewriters in Fiction: The Lost Weekend

Life's recent chaos has left me little time to read, but I finally managed to get through The Lost Weekend. A review of this book might be forthcoming, but for now, I thought it'd be nice to share some quotes from the text about typewriters. In the 1945 film adaptation starring Ray Milland, the character Don Birnam uses a Remington #2 portable (see my post here for more on the movie). While in the book, the machine is never specified beyond the Remington name, I chuckled at these gems:

Page 96:

He went into the bedroom and began packing up his Remington portable: got the dusty case out from under the desk, set the machine inside, hit the spacer a few times till it was centered and would fit, and closed the cover.

Page 102:

What fiend ever gave the name portable to a portable. It was a dead weight that dragged you down, held you back, it pulled your arm out of the shoulder-socket, it fixed you fast to one spot on the sidewalk. It was a solid block of lead, but lead that would become pure gold if you could drag it far enough.

Page 105:

He gazed through the glass...There was a portable typewriter plastered with the peeling souvenirs of European travel.

Just out for a bit of typing in the park.
Hm...little heavy, for an Underwood.

Oh jeeze, this Olympia's KILLING ME!

Anybody got similar passages they'd like to share?

Power to the pen!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Triumph Tippa: My Ultraportable of Choice

Yes, I flipped the ribbon on purpose. When set to black, certain characters tend to ghost or smear.
On red setting, none of those problems persist. Odd.
My Lettera 32 is great. I've typed thousands upon thousands of words on it. But sometimes, it just doesn't feel portable enough. The leather case offers no real protection against being dropped or things being dropped on it (and you know it's a good day when the zipper still works...).

My Hermes Baby is also great. It's in near-perfect cosmetic condition and for only $30. Lightweight and could easily fit in a book bag. However, it incorporates a universal bar. The keys on the outer edges of the keyboard require a disproportionate amount of force to make a clear impression on the paper. Q A S W Z PL . and , are always lighter than the others, even with a new ribbon. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if I wasn't going to scan the document into the computer, but print quality affects how many errors will be in the digitized manuscript. 

So I started looking for an ultraportable that would have a better case and better typing action. I was lined up to trade for an Adler Tippa 1 over Facebook when the deal fell through. I wasn't happy, but I wasn't eager to buy the first good deal that came my way, either. I found this Triumph on eBay within an hour's drive from me, and since I had to go for a followup with the surgeon the next week, I threw out an offer and the rest is history. The seller got it at an estate sale, so she didn't know anything about the machine's past. I'm pretty sure it hasn't seen much use.

A bit dirty...

The serial number puts it around 1967-68. The keyboard action is springy, like a Lettera 22. The bell is loud and the carriage return is butter smooth. It has a paper guide and a paper support (which I always like to have). There's no touch control or tabulator. But you get a ribbon selector. I think it's a fair trade.

The only downside is that this machine will not accept two sheets of paper at the same time (my Baby is the same way). One always gets caught in the platen and the other feed through. I always want to protect my platen, but when I turned over a sheet after typing, I saw and felt no deep impressions except the punctuation. Either the platen is still good or this machine just hits light. A final oddity is that it's possible to short-stroke the space bar if you don't hit it hard enough. The bar must be depressed at least three fourths of the way before the carriage will advance. I don't foresee any speed typing on this, but it'll get the job done if you pace yourself.

This typewriter has all the good features for a machine you want to take on a long weekend, when you may or may not have the time to write a letter or short story. Is the Lettera better built? Debatable. It has more features and smaller font, but the Triumph doesn't disappoint. Throw it into a backpack, saddlebag, or carryon luggage.

Power to the pen!