Posted on May 14, 2015
One name (hyphenated) immediately came to mind when I clapped eyes on the carriage of this pale yellow Robotron Cella S 1001 typewriter…
Look at the carriage on any Silver Reed Silverette or Royal 200 …
… and then look at the carriage return lever, linespace lever, single pivot paper rest, upturned margin stops, and roll-less paper bail on the Cella S 1001 – and you’ll see they are very similar.
I say “similar” rather than “identical”, because in the case of the Cella the overall finish on the metalwork is less polished than on a comparable Silver Reed. The margin stops are also a tad flatter, and the carriage return lever has a more primitive-arrow-like shape.
S 1001: A Typewriter Oddity
Not that I’m breaking any new ground: Will Davis has previously documented two family lines of Maritsa typewriter: one based on the West German PRINCESS; and another line that are “internal copies of ROYAL / SILVER-REED machines made in Japan by Silver-Seiko Ltd.”
Maritsa 30 with suspiciously Silver-Seiko-like snap-on lid
Likewise, what we have in the Robotron Cella S 1001 is an East German “designed” (possibly Bulgarian-tooled) typewriter built to Silver-Seiko specifications.
The Cella S 1001 Reiseschreibmaschine (Travel Typewriter) and Japan get a mention (in German) on page 14 of the UAG Robotron History (Dresden Computing Workgroup Technical Collections):
- “Unter dem Druck zur Bereitstellung von Konsumgütern im Bezirk Suhl kam es Ende der 1980er Jahre zur Entwicklung der MKSM Cella S 1001 bei Robotron-Elektronik
- Zella-Mehlis (REZ) . Auf der einen Seite stellte das eine Aufweichung früherer Festlegungen dar aber auf der anderen Seite gab es damit wieder eine echte, Reiseschreibmaschine“, denn alle anderen Entwicklungen zielten auf komfortablere und damit preisintensivere Erzeugnisse hin. Die Maschine entstand als Lizenz einer japanischen Firma.”
An Entwicklung der Produktlinien (Development of Production Lines) chart in the same document shows what probably marks the end of the Cella’s production run in 1989:
This 1987 calendar, printed in 1986, suggests that production began at least three years earlier, and probably as early as 1985 …
At that time, Robotron Electronik Zella-Mehlis were, as their name suggests, primarily involved in the production and development of electronic typewriters and computer peripherals – a fact that perhaps explains why many of these typewriters have the same computeristic-futuristic Krystall typeface** …
After 1989 Zella-Mehlis used the logo “Cellatron ” for its electronic devices.
The fact that they decided to put their name to a manual “travel” typewriter is a bit of a surprise.
The Cella looks even more Japanese when it comes with the squarer keytops …
Unfortunately mine’s missing the plastic snap-on lid …
The rounded keytops appear to be Robotron leftovers from earlier production runs …
As far as the typing feel goes, the key levers on this typewriter have more rattle and sideways movement than a sidewinding rattlesnake. This, and the low-grade metalwork, makes it worse than a comparable Silver Reed.
On the plus side, the Cella S 1001 does have a novelty appeal. Unfortunately it’s a novelty that wears off quickly when you type on it for any length of time.
Internet sources, in particular German Wikipedia, will tell you that the plastic shell of the Cella S1001 was designed by Karl Clauss Dietel, an east German automotive designer who went on to design several typewriters for Robotron.
At least in that respect, the Cella S 1001 is more interesting than the Quelle Privileg 207 “German” typewriter I bought that turned out to be a Nakajima. But best not to dwell on that! 😀
Privileg 165 (without a fast forward spacer button)
(** Correction made in light of Nick T’s comment. 15/05/2015)