My copy of Paradigm Shifts: Typewritten Tales of Digital Collapse has landed down under …
My copy of Paradigm Shifts: Typewritten Tales of Digital Collapse has landed down under …
Released circa September 1991, Sharp’s “second generation” 3000 Series of PA (Personal Automation) portable electronic typewriters are smaller and lighter than their predecessors …
“First generation” PA-3000/3100 Series portable electronic typewriters (3000, 3020, 3120, 3130, 3140, 30211) were introduced in October 1986 …
Both the new and the old PA-series continued to be manufactured and sold into the 1990s.
In the following ad, a Sharp PA-3000II is described as “compact”. Not compact in the sense of “semi-professional”, but compact in the sense of being small and lightweight …
Since these were entry-level typewriters (often targeted at students and given away with fountain pens) the “Intelliwriter” name was dropped …
Like the PA-3000/3100 series “Intelliwriters” that came before, these typewriters have an average speed of 12 cps, which is one benchmark of a good rather than a poor-to-average portable electronic typewriter.
Other portable wedges (Brother AX-440 I’m thinking of you) claim a top speed of 12 cps, when the average speed is somewhere around 10, and are sluggish by comparison.
Things to like about these 1990s Sharp PA-3000 machines:
On the downside:
Where’s a 40 character LCD screen when you need one? A major drawback of these typewriters is the one-piece transparent ribbon cover which doubles as the paper bail bar and obscures your view of what’s being typed – annoyingly this is a cover which you can only pull towards you and rest against the keyboard, rendering the typewriter inoperable …
“First generation” PA-3000/3100 Series typewriters use a drop-in cartridge (Below Right). The wheel is further supported by a metal brace.
“Second generation” wheels are also dropped in, but without a protective cartridge (Below Left). Get the alignment wrong and you can damage the wheel …
Drawbacks aside, for simple typing jobs these typewriters are pretty good. Manufactured in Korea, the U.K. and the Philippines, the PA-3000, with various S, H and X suffixes that hint at additional storage and/or functions, come in a variety of light-to-mid-to-dark grey-to-charcoal colours …
The UK-made Sharp PA-3000s below appears to have been the very first incarnation of the “second generation” – they have a flip-up lid/paper table which is separate to the ribbon cover and the bail bar, plus a chunky platen knob – features more in keeping with typewriters of the “first generation” (PA-3000/3100 series) …
A variation of this typewriter was advertised for sale in the USA, in August 1990 and the years following, as the QL-800 “Celebra” …
Brand recognition is important to the giants of consumer electronics. Sharp is no exception and mostly sells its products under its own name; however some electronic typewriters were clearly supplied on an OEM basis …
Later (“third generation”?) QL-110, 200, 210, 310 portable electronic typewriters (sold in the U.K. circa 1993 onwards) have a body style which is very similar to typewriters of the “second generation” …
These QL- typewriters have a more rounded shape. A view of the underside of both machines shows the difference …
Hypothetically, had Brother’s Wrexham, U.K., typewriter plant still been around at the time of Brexit (23rd June 2016), and then switched production to a more EU-friendly country (France or Germany say) they would have been entitled to exhaust their supply of EU stickers and “Ecolabels” …
This grey-beige Wrexham-made Brother AX-440 portable electronic typewriter, with German keyboard, is in fact a green machine.
But not as “green”, obviously, as this greenish-blue Brother AX-210 with Öko model number suffix (öko translates from German to “eco” which is the short form of “ecology” (Ökologie) ) …
What struck me about this German eBay typewriter listing (apart from the high price tag that coloured plastic entails) was a glimpse of the ribbon cassette inside it.
Brother (and most Panasonic) portable electronic typewriters normally take a ribbon cassette like this …
This struck me as something different …
It might just be the base plate that the ribbon cassette sits on, however my first thought was that this was a refillable, re-usable ribbon cassette in keeping with the Öko concept – or at least, a single-use ribbon cassette with re-usable parts.
That’d be a real plus point. But what, you may ask, on God’s green earth, is the point of an Ecolabel?
Well, it seems the point of an “eco-typewriter” is that it should be assembled in such a way as to be easily dis-assembled for later re-use or recycling.
To this end, Brother have adopted “the 5Rs” (a few seem R for Repetitive and R for Redundant) as a basis for their environmental activities:
In Europe, for example, Brother has a portal site for recycling consumables and products (electronic typewriters included) and provides information about how to return used toner cartridges, drum units, ink cartridges and products; and how to ask for collection boxes, etc. which are available in a total of 28 countries.
The problem is, any recycling program is only as good as the consumers who sign up for it, but kudos to Brother for taking responsibility for their own waste. Was this a regulatory measure forced upon them by the EU, or simply clever marketing on Brother’s part? A bit of both.
Hopefully, it’ll be a while before this “Öko” AX-440 meets its maker. Of course, that will only happen should this typewriter make it as far as a Brother recycling collection point in Wrexham, Wales.
It made it as far as Perth, Western Australia from Oldenburg, Germany, so anything’s possible.
P.S. A plug adapter is all that’s required to run this 230 volts machine in Australia. 220 Volt appliances were standard throughout Europe, while 240 volt appliances are standard in the UK. With the establishment of the EU, 230 volt appliances were introduced as a compromise.
In 1983, Australia committed to a 20 year plan to convert to a nominal specification of 230 volts to align with European standards. While the supply voltage did not change, the tolerance specification became 230 volts +10/-6%. Effectively, this moved the upper limit down to 253 volts, but left the lower limit unchanged at 216.2 volts. Information taken from:
One day, acting on a hunch,
a group of orderlies, nurses, doctors, took a picnic lunch,
thinking that a breath of fresh air would do them wonders.
A welcome break from Legionnaire-conditioning, diseases, face masks, rubber gloves, blood soaked sponges.
Bandages for the injured. Beta blockers for the sick. Morphine booster shots for the dying.
(When they said they were against euthanasia they were lying.)
In the park, although they were still in uniform, they felt different, more serene. Nibbling on sandwiches, drinking coffee and smoking.
(When they said they were dying for a cigarette they were not joking.)
Not a word was spoken as they sat in grim contemplation of the birds and the bees. They were even frowning, as if they disapproved, at a colony of ants that devoured a browning apple core.
What was it all for?
And why, if they were closer to nature, did they feel further removed from it?
I have channeled the spirit of Gypsy Rosie Lee to bring you, dear readers, your stars for the week …
ARIES Born March 21 to April 19
Forget that plan for the typewriter-related book, Aries. Trust me, it’s been done to death. Instead, use a typewriter (or two) to inspire something truly original. But please keep it legal. No uni-bomber-style ransom demands, and no letters purporting to have been written by a former financial adviser to the late Colonel Gadaffi.
TAURUS Born April 20 to May 20
No bull, Taurus, some dramatic changes are ahead and they may not be what you had planned. Straighten your back before lifting that Hermes Ambassador and try not to drop it on your big toe!
GEMINI Born May 21 to June 21
True to type, Geminis are known for their incredible wit, their astounding intelligence and their excellent taste in typewriters. Did I mention it was April Fool’s Day?
CANCER Born June 22 to July 21
Let’s face it Cancer, the hey-day of the typewriter coincided with the hey-day of tobacco, and yes, sometimes that unsightly residue of grime and nicotine is hard to remove. Try tooth whitener, but don’t expect the keys on your Silver-Seiko-made Royal portable to scrub clean!
LEO Born July 22 to August 21
Egotistical Leo. Your typewriter purchase are based on emotion rather than logic. (admit it). You bought that Aristocrat Empire only because it had a lion decal on the front.
VIRGO Born August 22 to September 22
Keep your eyes open, Virgo, and that extremely rare Sphinx typewriter you’ve been looking for will magically appear on a shelf in one of those thrift stores you frequent. Also be on the lookout for flying pigs.
LIBRA Born September 23 to October 22
Better check your IQ, Libra. Sure, a lot of electronic typewriters claimed to be “smart”, but is it smart to buy one and risk being ostracized by the Typosphere?
SCORPIO Born October 23 to November 21
On Friday, the new moon in Libra gives your transitional 12th house one last hit for the season. That means housekeeping! Do a clean sweep of your space, removing any typewriters you haven’t looked at in the last 12 months. This is unwanted typewriter clutter, Scorpio — which, naturally you will NOT replace with more typewriters, right?
SAGITTARIUS Born November 22 to December 21
We don’t have to remind you to dream big, Sagittarius — so grab yourself a 6-pitch Olympia SG3 like Mark Petersen’s at Totally Your Type. If he can lug one into a bar and keep a straight face, then so can you!
CAPRICORN Born December 22 to January 20
Capricorn, it’s time for you to Compromise, Cooperate and Collaborate. Yep, that’s called alliteration. Try it on your Trusty, Torpedo Typewriter Today!
AQUARIUS Born January 21 to February 19
Keep jealousy in check, Aquarius. So what if your dream of making the final cut for Cold Hard Type fell flat? Some people have real problems.
PISCES Born February 20 to March 20
Pisces, The truth serum will be flowing liberally now and you cannot tell a lie about that “bargain” typewriter that cost you $400 and turned out to be a crock of shit.
Gypsy Rose Lee (photos by George Skadding for LIFE Magazine)
Born in Slovenia, but raised as a German, Alma Karlin (12 October 1889 – 15 January 1950) was a world traveler, writer, poet, collector, polyglot and theosophist. Following the Nazi occupation of Slovenia during World War Two, Alma joined the partisan guerrilla movement and was imprisoned in Celje in 1941.
After the war, Alma’s property was confiscated by the Communist Yugoslav regime. She fell into poverty and died of cancer in 1950.
A full-size wax doll of Alma on display at the Kvartirnaya house in Gosposka Ulica 3, Celje, Slovenia.
At the very last, Smith Corona VTX- and DTX- series (and Samsung-manufactured “Wordsmith”) portable electronic typewriters bore the (Sun) logo of Smith Corona Office Supplies …
Which literally shows how rapidly the sun went down on a company that was once one of the giants of the typewriter industry.
At some point during the production run of these series, in the early 1990s, Smith Corona threw their (re-born, 1986 onwards) logo, and their reputation, out with the bathwater, stopped manufacturing better quality PWPs in Singapore, and began sourcing shoddy machines from Indonesia instead …
From a distance, the rounded design of these machines is attractive (a lone rampart to the right of the keyboard is reminiscent of the ramparts on Nakajima AX-series machines), however the quality of construction is low grade and the keyboards are sub-standard (I’ve seen several where the transfer lettering on the key-tops has completely worn away).
VTX/DTX-300/400 typewriters were also sold (with “Death Star” logo) as “Display Dictionary” typewriters in North America. The Model Number, listed on the underside of these machines, takes the form NA<n>HH, where <n> is a number in the series: 1, 2, 3, or 4.
VTX- and DTX- prefixes are meaningless, but at least the underlying model numbers make sense. Do I recommend you buy one? NAHH.