Japanese electronics manufacturer Towa Sankiden Corporation are known for their electronic cash registers and point-of-sale technology. But did you know they were also one of seven Japanese manufacturers listed in a 1985 anti-dumping proceeding lodged by the Committee of European Typewriter Manufacturers (CETMA) against imports of electronic typewriters originating in Japan?
As part of the proceedings, investigations into the (affected) profitability of Community-produced electronic typewriters were undertaken at:
- Olympia-Werke AG, Wilhelmshaven (Federal Republic of Germany),
- Triumph-Adler Aktiengesellschaft fuer Buero- und Informationstechnik, Nuenberg (Federal Republic of Germany),
- Office and Electronic Machines plc, London (United Kingdom),
- Olivetti Belgium SA, Brussels (Belgium),
- British Olivetti Ltd, London (United Kingdom),
- Olivetti France SA, Paris (France),
- Olympia Business Machines Co. Ltd, London (United Kingdom),
- Triumph-Adler SA, Paris (France)
Listed among the usual suspects, Towa Sankiden is perhaps the least well-known:
- Brother Industries,
- Silver Seiko Ltd,
- Canon Inc.,
- Sharp Corporation
- TEC Tokyo Electric Co. Ltd
- Tokyo Juki Industrial Co. Ltd
- Towa Sankiden Corporation
If you’re thinking there’s a name missing from that list, you’re right. Nakajima All Co. Ltd avoided sanction.
Which is not to say they weren’t dumping electronic typewriters, more that they were smarter in the way they went about it. TEC (Tokyo Electric Co. Ltd) were far from happy about what they saw as Nakajima’s favourable treatment:
This and other TEC objections to having to pay an anti-dumping duty, fell on deaf ears:
The reason Towa Sankiden is a less well-known name than, say, TEC, seems to be that they seldom put their own name on the typewriters they produced. The vast majority of their exports to the community consisted of “OEM Imports”, in other words, sales to European manufacturers who then marketed the typewriters under their own brand names.
As proof of that, try to find a “Towa” branded electronic typewriter online. Here’s what I found:
A non-electric “Towa Type” Japanese typewriter:
An early electric type-bar typewriter (whose model name I can’t make out from the image, partly because it’s written in kanji and hiragana, so probably not an export):
A recent Gumtree listing of a Towa Excellence 55 …
The listing was unusual in that someone bought it within 48 hours of it being listed. Normally you can’t even give these things away!
Here’s the “operating instruction manual” …
Did I say Towa seldom put their name on their typewriters? It also seems they seldom put their name on their “OEM” operating instructions. It’s been a few years since I bought this anonymous electronic typewriter operating instruction manual …
It has no branding or company designation whatsoever, only different language variations of “electronic typewriter” on the front cover. Until I saw the Towa Excellence 55 images (above) I had no idea who the manufacturer might be.
I still don’t know which model(s) of typewriter this manual relates to.
These generic multi-lingual¹ “no name” booklets seem to be service technician-oriented as well as user-oriented, since they include detailed parallel interface specifications and code tables, etc.
An important detail provided by the Gumtree seller was the serial number, which means we’re one step closer to having every Japanese electronic typewriter manufacturer represented on the TWDB.
This NASCO NX-90 shows all the signs (ribbon cartridge, instruction guide, chunky-look-and-feel) of being a Towa typewriter:
NASCO is an acronym for National Advanced Systems Corp and is, or was, a subsidiary of Hitachi, mainly selling computers, computer peripherals, printers and electronic typewriters.
Information about the 1985 anti-dumping proceeding from: Japanese Manufacturing Investment in Europe: Its Impact on the UK Economy By Roger Strange, Routledge, 11 Sep. 2002.