Showing posts with label Olivetti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olivetti. Show all posts

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day! The Ultimate Pi Day of the Century.

Ooo... such a beautiful sequence of numbers this is! Today is the day that Pi and time collide and for an infinitesimally long bit Pi is repeated forever...
At least in the artificial construct we call time. All I know is that we don't have enough of it. Even Elder Spawn got to experience little of the small death known as sleep this week with homework and rehearsals. She is a number fanatic and obsesses about sequences, but is opting to sleep in. We have another chance in the PM, but we will be watching Joshua Bell from the third row center at the Kauffman Center.We could be on a cruise ship full of Spring Break extroverts instead. Nah.

 I know a lawyer who memorized Pi out to 2,000 places, backwards and forwards. I'm consistently remember 3.14. But for today, we can contemplate the great beyond:
3.141592665335989793238462 etc.

Thanks for geeking out with me!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

An Olivetti Lettera 22 with Scriptin' Style!

Greetings from the new arrival in the House Full of Nerds! Pistachio isn't just a an Olivetti 22; it has a variation of the curly script typeface that sometimes (rarely) appears on Olivetti and Smith-Corona typewriters. For Typospherians with typeface fetishes, this is one of those objects of desire. Pistachio is even one scarcer colors found on Olivetti machines in the wild.

Pistachio with a friend who has just been serviced. That Groma is one light and snappy machine! It isn't quite as hyper as an Olympia or Topedo, but it is really nice to type on. Boring typeface, though ;-)

After several years of searching and bidding in vain, I happened upon a Smith-Corona Silent Super and then this lovely machine within months of each other as Buy it Now items on ebay. Before I go any further, let's jump straight to the typeface samples. In order of appearance: Lettera 22, Silent Super, Olympia SM-9, and a Torpedo 18.

I was fortunate that Pistachio was in generally good condition and fully operable. The seller double boxed it as requested and Fed-Ex did its thing without maiming or destruction. I opened it up, lubed everything I could, washed and bleached the shell, put on a new generic ribbon on the original spools, and cleaned the type slugs with mineral spirits and a toothbrush. PB Blaster is a miracle lube, but curiously I find this Italian machine to be more responsive than the first year of production British Lettera 22. It still requires a light, fast stroke, but the strikes seem to be easier and more consistent. This is a good thing as I need to type more. So busy I have been.

Olivettis of feather, flock together!

Olivetti industrial design is so clean and seemingly uncomplicated. The details make a huge difference, however. Not having flattened rollers is kinda awesome. The rail and tab stop mechanisms are elegant works of art.

I love the view under the hood. The original ribbon spools are super cool. The outer shell took a bit of abuse sometime in the last 50+ years with the front, right screw tab broken off. Crazy glue seems to be holding it together.

Any chance of figuring out the year of manufacture in Italy?

And here it is with the kissing cousin from Glasgow.

For any of you typewriter nerds who enjoy a mystery (I'm thinking of Ted Munk, Ton, and Richard Polt), here is the Glasgow machine's serial number in all of its confounding glory. I have yet to find an image of another Lettera with an embossed paper table.

I'm sure there are more examples that I just can't remember at the moment. Tom Furrier at Cambridge Typewriter Works recently serviced a machine identical to my Smith-Corona. Natalie at natslaptaps has a beautiful coral color L22 with the exact same script.  If are having a hankering for a cursive typeface overdose, Notagain at Manual Entry has what you are looking for.

For anyone curious, all of these images were captured with my Fuji X-T1 and the native 35mm f1.4 lens. Lacking ambient light, these out of camera JPEG images pretty well nail white balance with a mix of halogen and fluorescent lighting on the work bench. My G+ stream is here.

As always, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad to be giving this blog a pulse again, but that is partly because I have been procrastinating on a Google+ photography challenge due at the end of the week. And silly me; I saw some really great toy images from people I follow and signed up for yet another challenge series. At least the hours and hours of darkness in winter are keeping me inside. There is that.

A note about Copyright: Yes, I am greedy. These are my copyrighted images and are not to be used without attribution and never in a commercial context without my express permission. Yes, this is the Interweb and anything can be copied. No, that does not make these the property of the world. Share the love and share the full post. The Interweb will be a better place for it. Be warned: I do have enforcers who will take matters into their own claws as necessary.

A member of the Brute Squad. You were warned ;-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Curiously Awesome Early Olivetti Lettera 22

Greetings members of the Typosphere and denizens of the Cult of Olivetti! I'm pleased to introduce our newest traveling companion. It is a Lettera 22 of a slightly different stripe.

You like the ribbon? This is one of many festive colors offered by FJA Products on their ebay store. I bought a pack of seven colors and love them all! The bright pink is on a script Olympia SM-9. My wife suggested putting on the machine most likely to be used by the Tooth Fairy.

So much spiffier looking than the inset logo.

Ted Munk, proprietor of The Typewriter Database, has commented that Olivetti serial numbers remain a mystery. This machine is S621119. What year? Anyone? Anyone?

The typeslugs were beyond filthy! This is after three cycles with mineral spirits and a toothbrush.

The color of this machine is...interesting. It is classic Olivetti. The strange thing is that it looks different under different light sources. Getting the photo color balance right is tricky. This machine is close to the original color of my Lexikon 80, the difference being that it wasn't totally covered in nicotine and cleaning scratches. Ton: Not to worry. I'm not touching the color on this delightful rarity.

I've said it before and I will say it again: I am absolute sucker for embossed paper tables. They are a totally superfluous and would have added to the cost of a machine. That is precisely what makes them desirable design details. To an extent, the embossed table is an element of industrial design from a long gone era. Its like the logo embedded in the back an iPad. I am not an iDevice fanboy, but I do appreciate design.

I've contemplated getting a L22 for a year or so. This one popped up on ebay and I knew it was just what I wanted. There was even a typing sample that verified function and typeface awesomeness.

Here is the Lettera 22 with its office sized cousin, the Lexikon 80. Now that I have each model, I can see the design integration so often discussed by Ton at I dream lo-tech. The body styles resonate, but the similarities go deeper with a shrink ray being applied to carriage controls and the carriage bearing and margin stop system.


It is a happy coincidence that I happen to own machines made at almost the same time, in the same factory and with the same typeface. The Lettera 22 is a common machine having been made for decades. I'm glad I waited for just the right one come along. It will be a wonderful companion for our family summer vacation.

Experimental hashtags: I'm curious to see if these get picked up directly by Google+. Have any of you tried integrating Blogger with G+? Comment and search integration could be awesome, but I want to see how it is working for others before committing. For those of you already on Blogger, I recommend trying out G+. The hashtag functionality is helping make it less of a digital ghost town and the Communities are awesome. Having exposure increased through Google search is a plus. G+ is now number 2 in social traffic behind Facebook.

#typewriter #Olivetti #typecast #vintagetechnlogy #Lettera22

Me, on Google+ Add me to a Circle! I place fellow Typospherians in my Acquaintance category in return.

Obligatory and Probably Ignored Copyright Notice: The words and photographs on Vintage Technology Obsessions are Copyright DwayneF. They may not be used for commercial purposes without explicit, written permission of the copyright holder. Please spread the blogging and typewriter love by commenting, sharing, linking and tracking back to this blog or my G+ presence. In the vague-an-unspecified-threat department, I have a small army of giant robots and monsters at my command and I am not afraid to use them. Just saying.
My Enforcers

Friday, April 19, 2013

How green is the Olivetti Lexikon 80?

Just how green is our Olivetti Lexikon 80? Let's ask the experts!

Most Green Experts Agree: "So pretty!"

 A few weeks ago I received a functional Lexikon 80 purchased through ebay. The fact that it worked is a testament to sound engineering and design. It was covered in the all-too-familiar sludge patina of old nicotine, dried lube and fine dust. Over the years, the dull, gray body shell had been cleaned aggressively. The color was none too attractive to begin with and was only made worse for wear by embedded dirt and fine scratches.

The machine as shown on ebay. You'll have to imagine the sticky nicotine and oil film. The end of the carriage draw band came undone during shipping.
Why did I buy this ugly machine? I've been watching Lexikon 80s for close to a year and have only seen five listed on ebay. Of the two others confirmed as functional, one was pickup only and another had an extra wide carriage. One entertaining listing showed a Lexikon with a two+ foot or so carriage covered in rust with no hood. I saw one come and go on etsy priced at several hundred dollars. This beast was $49 plus shipping.

 Obviously, this machine needed a makeover. I looked at the rattle-can paint available at several local auto supply stores and was unimpressed. Ultimately, I picked a color available at a local hardware store. It is vaguely reminiscent of an Olivetti color. We think it looks nice enough to live indoors. As for the shade of green, we asked the experts to weigh in on our redecorated machine.

Little Godzilla approves of the keyboard feel. "Light and snappy!", he says.

Shogun Godzilla and the Attacking Martian find this shade to be appealing.
Getting color balance right can be tricky when shooting green objects. One of the images I posted on Google+ was trippy acid green. In some light it looks darker. If I were less lazy I would break out camera manuals and figure out how to balance against a gray card. Maybe someday.

The infamous Google+ introduction. I took this with an early iPhone in my garage under fluorescent lighting. The extreme does make an impression.

We could compare the Lexikon with another green typewriter. How about Keylime, our Duotone Royal?

I just spent a week running off an iPad and iPhone. Forgive the typos, etc.

Other Lexikon 80 posts from the Typosphere:

And two Graphika machines:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Olivetti Lexikon 80 Production Lines

I ran across some images of the various production lines for the Lexikon 80 and thought I should share them with the Typosphere. Go to the host website for the Ivrea plant image below and you can zoom for detail.

Source (in Italian):

And some Lexikon 80s running down conveyors in various degrees of completion:
 This image came from the same website. Find what looks like a search window and plug in "Lexikon" for more gems!

With the right Italian search phrase, more results start coming in through a Google search. This appears to be a final quality control and adjustment step in Brazil.
Flip through the Fotogallerie for more images from this production facility. They were very proud of the architectural details. I wonder if this building still exists?

Did you know Olivettis could fly? I suppose it would help if I read Italian. This production line image comes from a wonderful group showing the diversity of Olivetti's range of products being manufactured.

And here is a low resolution image of the body shells being mated with the rest of the machine:

Thank goodness for the Internet! I didn't expect to find much about making these fine machines, but the search turned up all kinds of interesting tidbits. For example, here is the beast itself from another great collection of product images. Sure looks like Kodachrome to me.

Also, I have a semi-rhetorical question for the Typosphere. Let's say one were to acquire a grubby Lexikon 80 in the least appealing shade of light gray. While it would be possible to strip off layers of nicotine and polish and wax the machine, would it be a Cardinal Typeratti Sin to consider painting it in another Olivetti shade or strip it to bare aluminum and polish it?

Feel free to post your opinions or throw rocks at me in the comments. They are moderated, but other than spam it all gets through.