Posted on February 8, 2020
In Japan, Matsushita earned themselves the nickname Maneshita (Copy Cat) due to their tendency to maneru (copy) the technologies marketed by their rivals.
NEC Spinwriter “thimble” printers, for example, may have been the inspiration for Panasonic RK-T series “cup wheel” personal electronic typewriters introduced in 1984.
Likewise, Brother AX-series personal electronic typewriters of the mid 1980s may have been the inspiration for Panasonic KX-R series daisy wheel personal electronic typewriters released in 1987. The two series are comparable in quality, have similar keyboards, take the same ribbon, and have similar (albeit incompatible) tabbed print wheels.
Plagiaristic conspiracy theories aside, I was intrigued to discover that Matsushita manufactured cheaper copies of their own KX-R series daisy wheel electronic typewriters.
Somewhere along the line (November 1988 to be exact) a series of low-end KX-Rs made from lighter, brighter, cheaper grade plastics were released. These 5 kg, 11 cps KX-R copies are 1 kg lighter and 1 cps slower than the “first generation” KX-R portable electronic typewriters introduced in June 1987.
A wide range of KX-R models, often with the same model number but of differing build quality, were manufactured concurrently through to the early 1990s.
Australian (and American?) KX-R models have a “Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd – Made in Japan” badge on the rear of the machine. European KX-R models have a “Kyushu Matsushita Electric (U.K.) Ltd” badge on the rear of the machine. It’s likely they were assembled in Great Britain.
The typing feel of the KX-305 (above) does not suffer too much from what is a noticeably cheaper grade of plastic key-top (although you do have to wonder about the durability of these cheaper machines).
The typing action is quieter than it is on original KX-Rs and the 11 cps print speed is still fast enough to pass muster (its faster than my painfully slow late generation Brother AX-450, slower than my nippy late generation Canon QS-300).
For cheap copies, they’re still pretty good.