Canon Fodder: Part One
Posted on January 7, 2017
Canon, the tenth largest public company in Japan, producer of cameras, faxes, laser printers and photo-copiers, have erased electronic typewriters from their company history.
No mention of the company’s Costa Mesa, Orange County, California plant, which opened in 1974 and produced typewriter ribbon cassettes, office copier products such as toners and drums.
No mention of the 1981 launch of the AP400/500 electronic typewriter.¹
No mention of the company’s 1988 plan to transfer production of their AP series electronic typewriters from Japan to Costa Mesa: A $24.8-million investment that would allow them to move their manufacturing capability closer to their biggest market –the United States.
I’m not sure of the reason for this oversight, because if this AP150 (probably manufactured in Japan) is anything to go by, AP series electronic typewriters are nothing to be ashamed of.
My first impressions:
- I like the size of it: falling somewhere between a portable and a compact (it’s described as “compact” on the cover of the instruction guide, but is smaller than the other compacts I own (IBM 6715, Xerox 6002).
- I don’t like the discoloration of the plastic, which would be easier to live with if it were consistent like it is on my IBM 6715. The rear of the typewriter (perhaps it was exposed to sunlight from a window?) has a lovely tan patina, whereas the remainder of the typewriter is a less attractive shade of nicotine yellow.
- After powering on (phew!) the motor is practically silent while idling. When typing you don’t feel as if you’re making furniture with a nail-gun like you do with the Nakajima ALL AE355 (since sold) or the Brother CE-30 portable. Instead, what you get is a gentle rat-a-tat-tat that’s easy to live with. Nice keyboard too.
- The 96 character daisywheel sets off on its various orbits, making a whole lot of fuss that suggests its working five times harder (and faster) than you are typing. It’s all bluster though, because it’s the wheel that has to do the catching up, not you.
- As it “zips” back to the left margin, the carriage return (or rather, the ribbon-carrier return) makes the appropriate sound of a zipper being pulled smartly upwards (which is far better than the slow, ratchety carrier returns you get on cheap electronic portables).
Unsightly discoloration or “tan patina”.
The Canon AP150 faced stiff competition from the Xerox 6002, a cleaner, quieter machine.
Yes, I like the AP150. Although I’d like it a lot more if it weren’t discoloured.
I could also live without the LCD screen.
When it comes to wedges, I always think basic is best. Text processing: one small step towards being a computer; one giant leap away from being a typewriter.
Everything seems to work fine, but no type sample because I need a new ribbon cassette.
At least I have an instruction guide: First call of business, how to use the typewriter like a typewriter. This is easily accomplished by selecting “C” for “Character-by-Character” mode (the right-most selector button to the right of the LCD screen) …
¹ (3/17/2017) I was wrong when I said electronic typewriters failed to get a mention in Canon’s company history.
The AP400 and AP500 get a mention in a Canon Factbook at www.slideshare.net (scroll down to 1982):