Posted on March 24, 2017
One of those rare finds – an Olivetti Lexikon 82 – popped up on Gumtree ($80 AUD):
‘Olivetti ‘Lexikon 82’ electric portable typewriter, cast-injected ABS plastic / metal / rubber / electronic components, designed by Mario Bellini in collaboration with A Macchi Cassia, G Pasini, S Pasqui, Italy, 1972-1973, made by Ing. C Olivetti & C Spa, Glasgow, Scotland.
There are three reasons why I didn’t buy it:
- After powering on the motor made a chugging noise Thomas the Tank Engine would have been proud of.
- Keys, space bar and carriage return all seemed to work, but the line spacing didn’t.
- My conversation with the seller ended like this:
I think I’ll pass on it, but thanks anyway.
Tell you what, why don’t you just take it?
What, you mean, like, for FREE?
It’s only taking up space here and you might be able to find a use for it.
He could tell I was interested (but not interested in buying) because I was taking photos with my mobile phone, left …
… not forgetting the serial number …
Unfortunately, the damp-affected pages of the instruction booklet have matted together …
I’ll clean the typewriter up and take a few comparison shots alongside the Brother Super 7300. I’ll also try and tease open the instruction booklet for scanning.¹
It seems to me these post-IBM golf-ball machines were something of an anomaly. “Important advances in technology” sometimes turn out to be nothing more than sideshows along the way. According to its own advertising, the Olivetti Lexikon 82/83 golf-ball typewriter was the typewriter that made all other typewriters obsolete.
In fact, what made typewriters (including the Lexikon 82/83) obsolete, were digital word processors and advances in printing technology …
The Olivetti Lexikon 82 (beige/dark beige) was first produced in 1975 according to Olivetti Storia di’un impresa, with the (black) de luxe model Olivetti Lexikon 83 DL following a year later.
“Olivetti Lexikon 83 D.L. (circa 1976-77) Dates are from a reply message to the the Tacky Postcard Archives of tackymail.com. That site notes that the Hotel La Serra was designed to look like an Olivetti typewriter. The convention center dome was suspose to represent a typing ball element. Back to planet Earth, the reply message notes that the Lexikon is unique in that while it has a “golf ball” typing element similar to an IBM Selectric, the Lexikon’s ball is stationary with the carriage moving like in traditional typewriters.
The IBM Selectric has no carriage; the ball moves along to type the words on the page. Jay Respler of Advanced Business Machines in Freehold, New Jersey indicates in a Yahoo Typewriter Group message that Olivetti sold their plant that made the Lexikon 83 DL and the similar 82 DL to SMC (Smith Corona) which made the virtually identical Smith Corona Vantage and Intrepid models …
Smith Corona Intrepid
… Advanced Business Machines indicates it bought the supply of print elements from Olivetti and is now the exclusive source of those print elements. Jay Respler also indicates that the Olivetti Lexikon 82 was the first portable single element typewriter. (Yahoo Typewriter Group message.) The Lexikon 83 had a few additional features compared to the 82 and was all black.”
The shape of the Lexikon 82 typewriter was incorporated into the design of Bellini’s Logos 3 and 7 pocket calculators (1978):