|Portable Typewriters TODAY
Revised February 2005. Numerous recent changes have occurred in the ever-smaller world of manual portable typewriter manufacturing. The information you will see next concerns the two most-recently available machines in the United States, namely the Olympia and Olivetti machines. Olympia offered one model, while Olivetti offered two.
Information, December 1, 2005 on ROVER 5000 and OLIVETTI MS25 PREMIER on the next page.
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|The OLYMPIA TRAVELLER C is certainly an interesting machine. Its styling is very modernistic, and truly distinctive, with curved depressions in the sides and an overall "swoopy" look. Aside from this, it's a well-made machine whose heritage, design-wise, dates back to the mid-1960's and SILVER-SEIKO machines. Carriage-shift; rapid spacebar; touch regulator; 3-color ribbon selector; 44 keys; fixed 10-space tabulator.|
|The OLIVETTI LETTERA 35l is a direct descendant of the LETTERA 32 which first appeared about 1965. 43 keys, basket shift; touch regulator; key-set tabulator. Body is metal, making it heavier than the OLYMPIA TRAVELLER C and the plastic-bodied LETTERA 25, the latter of which is simply a cheaper version of the 35l.
These two brands are the only manual portables readily available to buy in the United States. Usually the TRAVELLER C is the least expensive, followed by the LETTERA 25 and the LETTERA 35l much higher.
|Keeping the price spread in mind, the TRAVELLER C is certainly the best buy of the lot. With it, one can have a brand-new "0-milage" and warrantied portable for minimal cost. At the top end of the scale is the LETTERA 35l, which with its basket shift and heavier weight is much more for the person who intends to seriously use a new portable for writing. (One mark against the OLIVETTI machines is their bag-type carrying cases, in my opinion a step back in convenience compared to the snap-over lid of the TRAVELLER C.) For serious use, the LETTERA 35l may indeed be worth the price for some people. Unfortunately for the LETTERA 25, the price spread between the TRAVELLER C and LETTERA 35l and the proximity of the LETTERA 25's cost to the 35l but proximity of its features to the TRAVELLER C makes it an also-ran. Most would either choose the low-cost (and very good quality) TRAVELLER C or the much more expensive (and higher quality) LETTERA 35l.
My statements regarding prices are from my experience searching through various dealers and wholesalers; by other statements here are opinion derived from owning ALL THREE. The latter is what I actually recommend, too, if you have the bucks. Soon they'll all be gone.
|February 2005. In the third quarter of 2004, Olympia and Olivetti both dropped their manual portables. This is the end of the line for the well-known Lettera series, as presently Olivetti is importing machines from China, carrying the label "Olivetti Premier MS25." There appear to have been at least two variations, with one being a Chinese-built BROTHER descendant, and the newer version a model of the ROVER, built by Shanghai Aeroengine Manufacturing. This latter company appears to have taken over production of the Chang Kong brand machines formerly built by Shanghai Aircraft Industrial Corporation, who is an investor in the new "SAM" outfit. The quality of the IMC-descended ROVER is well known, and is a step down even from the quality of the old Lettera. The online site for, and descriptions of, the ROVER line have vanished without trace. So has reference to manual portables sold under the OPTIMA name (these were actually Traveller C machines relabeled for Optima Erfurt.)
Other makers still in business at this time: Marshall Sewing Machine Industrial, of Taiwan, who is offering their MT-99 for export. Ningbo Duodashi Typewriter Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in China is offering its DUODASHI brand machine, which looks to be a BROTHER descendant (and with the company's stated launch date of January 1962, this may be the case.) Chee-May (Goh's) of Taiwan is still listing several models as available, including the KOFA line of portables which includes the Model 100 you can read about elsewhere on this site. These may be backstock.
The main Olympia site is still listing not only the Traveller C as available, but also the older Carina 2 and Carina 3, which latter two are either Nakajima-built or derived therefrom -- but it is likely that these are all "in stock" and not in production.
This means that, since the end of production of the Olympia and Olivetti machines, the whole of new portable, manual typewriter production is in Greater Asia. There can only be so long that this can continue!
|December 2005 update on the two varieties of portable available RIGHT NOW from retailers in the US is on the next page. Don't miss it! Also follow through to information placed online in February 2006.|