|BROTHER portable typewriters
Brother (according to Beeching's book "Century of the Typewriter") made its initial studies into production of manual typewriters around 1954. The company did not begin production at this time, but instead is said to have waited for a totally original design which would be well accepted. This may indicate that Brother had the first crack at license-production of the Halberg; whatever the case, the company began production in 1961 with a small, very flat portable which had as good an action as any. It immediately set about creating deals with US companies to import, distribute and sell the machines. There are three basic mechanical designs which have been manufactured by Brother over the years.
|Montgomery Ward Signature 100
This is the earliest version of the Brother portable. It was sold in the US by Montgomery Ward Department Stores, who, through the years, would sell very many Brother machines of the first two types developed.
This is a small, flat, all-metal bodied 42-key machine with no tabulator, no ribbon selector and no touch control. It has the "flat" ribbon cover.
The brand name of Webster for portable typewriters was actually owned by Brother, and was trademarked in the US for that purpose. Reports that it was associated with Merriam-Webster are completely incorrect. The machine seen here is still of the early mechanical design, but unlike the machine above, has not only the "rounded" top cover, but 44 keys, ribbon and touch selectors.
This is essentially the same machine as that seen immediately above, but it is labeled especially for Western Auto Department Stores. It carries that company's trademarked Wizard brand name. The decor of the machine is very much that of the Brother Valiant; only the name on the front, and the centered emblem, are changed for Western Auto.
At right is an example of the first basic design taken to the maximum of options --- this machine has tabulator and rapid-spacer added to the features of the machines seen above. Note the model number associated with the famous Boeing "jumbo jet" -- there is actually a great number of portable typewriters from the 1960's and 1970's with jet or space related names.
|Sperry-Rand Remington 333
Eventually, Remington quit producing most of its own machines in the US and had them either produced in Holland by its subsidiary there, or else in Japan by Brother. This Remington 333 is typical of these machines. Note that it has the taller keytops normally found on the rare, large Brother machines you'll see below.
|Sperry-Rand Remington Performer
Here is the same machine, mechanically, but with rapid spacer added. It is enclosed in a totally unique body, so far seen only on this particular Remington model and thus not associated directly with any indigenous Brother model.
|Sears / correction
This machine is labeled for Sears Roebuck, and has no actual model name -- just "Sears / correction," indicating the fact that it is intended to use not a two-color but a correcting ribbon. This machine was built in 1983, and has the flat cover.
The original, first mechanical design lasted the longest and thus is the most often found in the wild. As you can see, it is available with not only a wide range of brand names and color schemes, but also with a wide range of additional options. This design ranks near the top for all-time unit production when the changes between optional models are ignored.
|Second design: Large, basket shifted desk model|
|First design: Small, carriage shifted travelling portable.|
|Montgomery Ward Siganture 510
This machine is in stark contrast to the other two designs produced by Brother, and was likely not entirely successful. It is a large, basket shifted desk model machine, often found with push-button ribbon selector. It employs parallel key action, and has a type-bar mechanism which is very much like that of the Barr Portable from many years earlier. It has been reported that the Barr was totally redesigned postwar, and that this design was offered around for production. This may be that design, either directly or indirectly (without permission.) These are big, heavy and well-made machines. The vast majority are found in the US with Montgomery Ward labeling -- but this "vast majority" is still a small number in the greater scheme of modern portables.
|Third design: Modern, plastic-bodied basket-shifted dowel plate machine|
|K-Mart 300 Deluxe 12
This early 1980's design was Brother's modern machine to compete with others using the dowel-plate or dowel mounting of key levers, which means that the designs were much less expensive to build. These are basket-shifted, and have a generally wide but flat shape. Found in black plastic cases with a crinkle finish, although rarely these machines can be found with a slightly different body shape and a snap-over lid. K-Mart / S.S. Kresge sold a good number of Brother machines over the years as did Sears, and, earlier, Montogomery Ward.
Here, for interest, is a further example of the early, or first, type of Brother machine, but this time labeled for S. S. Kresge & Company. This company later launched its K-Mart subsidiary stores, which eventually took over and became the majority of stores operated by this former "five and dime" chain.
|The Brother machines are fairly easy to identify, since they always have the serial number placed on a label on the rear. This label will also, 99% of the time, state that the machine was made in Nagoya, Japan. If the sticker says "Nagoya," it's a Brother machine, regardless of what the actual brand and model on the front or top says. The first digit of the serial is a year code, but note that there are Brother machines from the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's to be found. In general, the old style machines are found 1961-1986, the large basket shifted machines are 1960's only, and the new body appears in the early 1980's. As with all brands, it seems, there is one "rare exception" machine, seen below..|
|Brother XL-1016 Capri
The existence of this machine defies description. To begin with, it was made by Messa SARL in Lisbon, Portugal. It is carried in a Royal portable typewriter case, without marking. The machine is very similar to late Messa-made machines such as the ABC 2000S, seen on another page on this site. It may prove true that Brother bought out Litton's involvement in this concern, and sold off remaining machines under its own brand name. Other variants of this range have been seen with slightly differing model numbers, that is up or down one or two digits. Features on these vary. The "Capri" name, located on this machine's paper table, is normally only found on the ABC 2000 series when relabeled for sale in the US by Sears. Confusing, eh?