Showing posts with label Shiny. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shiny. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Year Anniversary: Picture Heavy!

Today marks the first anniversary of Vintage Technology Obsessions.  Before I go any further, I want to thank all of you who regularly visit this blog.  I'd like to think that I would keep going without page views, but the truth is I like to see the number go up and the comments and conversations are greatly appreciated.

In the spirit of this blog and the Typosphere, this is a hybrid post.  I think I will use a few different typewriters.  Do you recognize the machines from their typefaces?

Yeah, typewriters are real; typographical errors and all.  The machines:  Underwood Deluxe Quiet Tab, Royal Signet, Olympia SM-7, Remington Mark II (a plastic Torpedo) and a 1932 Royal known as Keylime.  I lust after a machine with German blackletter or an Olivetti Graphika.

I've been surprised at some of the posts that have picked up the most hits; mostly from Google searches.  I'm glad that I diversified content from the beginning.  I blog because I love learning about many obscure subjects that have nothing to do with my professional life.  I also love photography and this is a fun avenue for me to share images.

Here are some of my favorite images from the last year:

This little guy was a graduation gift for a friend of the family.

Svetlana Optima is our mysterious Cold War throwback.  She was manufactured in East Germany in the early '50s and has some pretty serious trust issues.  This comes from her new ribbon day.
And now for some statistics.  Thanks to readers such as yourself, this blog passed the 16,000 pageview mark on August 11.  The top ten posts by pageview, paraphrased and in descending order, are:

ITAM Special Report: The Eight Millionth Remington
Remembering Ralph McQuarrie
Zeiss Ikon/ICA Folding Camera
Juvenile Cold War Space Fiction
Happy Typewriter Day from Keylime
The Birthday Blog Post from Space
Royal Typewriter Rescue(feature Old Red, a Royal with the Vogue typeface rescued from choppers)
A Tale of Two Cameras (the modern Sony NEX3 coupled with Olympus PEN F lenses)
Mousiest Royal Futura (a not all that fun to type on Royal with an awesome cursive typeface)
B-36 Restricted Report (Features an SM-9 keeping track of the dreaded Svetlana Optima)

And here is the subject of the top post, Remington number 8,000,000.

Just full of awesome and kind of OK to type on.  This machine receives plenty of Google search hits.

If only I could keep the bench this tidy.
Being an Art Deco icon, this machine starred in its own movie "Last Stand at the Remington".
This is an outtake from the hit movie "Last Stand at the Remington".

Yeah, totally growing up would be pretty boring.
This is the first typecast with our Senatorial Olympia SM-9.  Racoons had recently dug a hole through our roof.
This man of mystery was a hit at the 2011 Kansas City Maker Faire.

The dreaded Dollar Store "Spacebot" testing out that old saw about the pen being mightier than the sword.  However, Bill has some muscle in the form of a junk part R2-C4 unit.

I'm still bitter about losing a whole summer worth of B-grade movie reruns to the Watergate hearings.

You don't want to know.

Here's our family mascot, Trollie!  Isn't that the most creative name you've ever heard?

Gotta love southern Florida.  There was a guy shooting a monster handgun towards a 40 foot fiberglass panther on the other side of the parking lot.  Ah, the memories Trollie and I have together.

Two extremely shiny typewriters.  They don't get used nearly enough what with my weird typeface fetish.  The gold Royal goes by the name of Margo.

Thank goodness we have a good copy editor in the house!  What fate awaits this tough Royal?

Like a candle in the Windy City.  Poor Marilyn is about to lose her head.

Keylime and Old Red, the Vogue typeface Royals.  The one on the right is named Keylime.  That was redundant, but I am too lazy to reconfigure the link.

Such a happy couple.  Too bad they are about to be mauled by zombies!

"Do you hear moaning?  I swear I hear moaning."

Imaging the Transit of Venus with a pair of binoculars.

Shopping for the perfect violin for Hannah.  It was a great experience.  The bow cost more than my first car.  Sure, the car was a beater, but you get the idea.

In the violin finish lair.  This strings shop is a great maker space.

My portable typecasting machine for our summer vacation.  We came back to a very long stretch of hot and a drought that came out of nowhere.

Something shiny from the Art of the Car Concours.

This is a nice rat rod from the Kansas City Good Guys show.  The Duesenberg at the Concours was worth more than a Belgian dressage horse.  The rat rod?  Not so much, but it is awesome!

3-D printing pretty much rocks.  This is from the 2012 Kansas City Maker Faire.

Souped up kiddie cars in the Power Wheels racing series.
This is Super Awesome Sylvia and her dad, the Tech Ninja doing some live science at the 2011 Kansas City Maker Faire.

This is precisely why we need maker culture.  We are so proud of Curiosity's team!  I still have a rendering of the skycrane lowering Curiosity set as my wallpaper.  We haven't forgotten Opportunity, either.

The team, as seen on my LCD during the live streaming of the landing.  Dang, where is that sexy Mohawk Guy?

Ahhhh!!!! Not only is he adorable, the Christmas Squirrel will bring your family socks and undies.  Part 1 on "The Origins of the Christmas Squirrel" is found here.  Yes, there is a Part 2 and the story involves Nikola Tesla, Erwin Schrodinger and a certain Mr. Edison.  It was cold outside and I was on vacation.

Claire's most awesome repurposed Christmas present to me.
This is one of Claire's friends.  She is a convert to the ways of the typewriter.  We gave her an Olympia SM-9 with the Senatorial (robot) typeface.  She is a total typeface junkie and can tell you about the history and design of many typefaces.  That may be atypical for the average eleven-year-old.

Claire (aka: gingercat) and the Six Fingered Man's twin brother at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Thanks again to all of you that follow or have happened upon this crazy, mixed up blog of mine!  It's gotten a little serious in the last couple of months.  Me thinks it is time to break out some Hong Kong knock-off robots and a jumbo Machinder.  Yes, that would do nicely!

Copyright:  The Copyright is a noble beast that I, the owner of the blog known as Vintage Technology Obsessions, claims for my own.  With the exception of the images of the amazing Curiosity, all images and text are mine and are copyright 2011 and 2012.  Regular readers would not need to be reminded that, in addition to legal recourse, if someone were to pilfer my images for use without attribution or for commercial use of any form they would likely be awakened in the middle of the night by the buzz and hiss of a flying, steam powered Oliver Number 99 hovering over their bed.  Thieves, you have been suitably warned.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big KC Weekend: Maker Faire and Art of the Car

Credit where credit is due:  This is a lino cut produced onsite by Will Burnip of The Print Factory.  This mobile printing operation was just one of over 100 exhibitors at the 2011 Maker Faire.

This weekend is the best of the best when it comes to area festivals.  First up, we have the Kansas City Maker Faire at the Union Station on June 23-24.  It is dedicated to all things maker.  If you live in the area, you must go.  If you don't live in the area, you should look into the other regional Maker Faires or perhaps find out about your local maker collective.

For a preview of what to expect, visit Late Maker Nerd News
The official website is here

The Art of the Car Concours is here Art of the Car 2012.
This year, the Concours features one of nine Talbot Lago coupes ever built.  Now in its sixth year, Art of the Car attracts some of the finest vehicles in the country.  This is also the year of the peddle car at the Concours.  All proceeds benefit the Kansas City Art Institute's scholarship programs.

Bobby Darin's Dream Car by designer Andy DiDia.  This is a past year feature car.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Metallic Typing and Fictional Mail

I owe the inspiration for this post to two fellow bloggers.  First, I need to commend Ledeaux of Dante's Wardrobe for catalyzing fictional correspondence among our family members.

Second, I'll give a shout out to Florian at Maschinengeschrieben for showing that typing on aluminum foil can be done.

Before I get to the aluminum foil typing, I need to explain the path to this little exercise.   MEK read the information on fictional correspondence and decided it might be a good way for our family of word nerds to communicate.  Hannah F. and Claire F. readily agreed.

One thing lead to another and a reply to a Dr. Sottenmeyer in the future was required. Why aluminum foil?  Well, it is obviously a superior medium for surviving time transmission.  Duh!  Or something like that...

This aluminum post was brought to you by Olympia!, our perky SM3.  I guessed that the sans italic would translate well to foil.  The trick to getting a clean impression is to use two pieces of paper underneath and one on top.  This sample was done with the ribbon vibrator running.  It takes a harder key strike that way.  Turning the ribbon vibrator off makes the aluminum impression easier but leaves no typed hard copy.  Life is full of tradeoffs.

Olympia says "Click here and look at me!"

But that is not the end of the story.  Sure enough, Dr. Sottenmeyer found the transmission at the research library in 2195 and sent a return package.  It was an elaborate package with instructions on the making of synthetic paper including a sample of the necessary Adamantium.  Addressed to the Scientific American, it arrived on time in the late 1800s.  Like magic, the 1898 Scientific American Cyclopedia was updated by way of an Errata sheet!  Time is fluid that way.

This is one of the most awesome books, ever!  You can download digital copies, but it is not the same experience as browsing 114 year old pages to find recipes for everything including alloys, paint, paper and ink.  Some would say it is an essential post-apocalypse library addition.

This type looks suspiciously like it came from our gold Royal.  Hmm.

In theory, the recipe should eliminate the need for metallic transmission media.  But that assumes the technology of 2012 is as good as that of 2195.  We shall see.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Meet Margo: The Gold Royal with Star(let) Power

"Give us that, Deagol my love."
"Because it's my birthday, and I wants it."

Thus began Smeogol's slow descent into madness.  Fortunately, I didn't need to drown anyone or scale Mount Doom to acquire the Precious now known as Margo.  But I had a birthday, and I wanted a gold plated Royal.

What is it about gold?   The whole concept of a gold based economy always mystified me.  Why not big stone discs or beads?  Obsidian.  Yeah, it's durable and relatively uncommon.  Why not obsidian? 

To understand the whole concept of gold, one must gaze upon it and think of a time past where few shiny things existed unscathed in our corrosive atmosphere.

Whole empires rose and fell with gold symbols and artifacts at their center.  Wars have been fought over gold.  And why?  Maybe because it is just so pretty.  We covets the Precious.

As suggested in the title, Margo is a typewriter with Hollywood starlet power.  Fortunately, the warranty card came with the machine and provides at least partial provenance.

The trail is a bit cold.  There is no absolute proof that this typewriter belonged to the actress, Jane Wald.  She would have been 22 when this machine was purchased in Hollywood.  That at least fits a narrative.  And even though the ebay seller stated that "It looks like it has never been used!", it in fact had plenty of evidence of extensive use including paper shreds, eraser shavings and lack of mechanical upkeep.

According to the Typewriter Serial Number Database, this machine was manufactured in 1948.  That at least gives a hint that it was not built to order other than the name plaque.

Margo had two primary mechanical issues along with a number of clean and lube related eccentricities.  She was missing an odd screw widgy thingy that actuates an armature for the back spacer.  Also, every shift was accompanied by resistance followed by a "cla-clunk!"  That turned out to be a lever out of adjustment.  I think its purpose was to keep the type basket from moving around during transportation.

The seller was located in Florida; a sensible place to retire.  The case sure smelled like the perpetual mildew that is Florida (no insult intended to Floridians, but every hotel and rental car I've been in there smells of air freshener or mildew).  I removed the side and back panels for mechanical access and to remove the irredeemably stinky wool sound deadening pads.  Relatively damp storage helped keep the rubber parts supple and the only evident pitting was at the high contact points.  Richard Polt has commented on the relatively thin plating on these machines.

I used the Cape Cod Polishing Cloths for Fine Metals to clean the gold plate.  The innards were mildly corroded and required a bunch of PB Blaster, mineral spirits and elbow grease  to get everything cleaned and loosened up.  I think she looks lovely.

The bodywork is really a lovely bit of industrial design by the renowned Henry Dreyfuss.  I have a Gray Magic once owned by a professor and the beat-to-heck Arrow featured at the beginning of Royal week.
But, in my opinion, neither of these color schemes bring out the design detail the way Margo's contrasting black and gold does.

Henry Dreyfuss was concerned with aesthetics and the human/machine interface.  The keys are shaped just so.  The glass tops are slightly concave and have just a bit of texture molded in.  For a great writeup on Henry Dreyfuss and the the QDL, visit Robert Messenger's blog at

There are a few more gold Royals living out in the Typosphere.
Towards the bottom - this is Richard Polt's collection

The main claim to fame for the gold plated Royals is that one was the weapon of choice for Ian Fleming of James Bond fame.  I can see the attraction.

The gold plated QDLs were reportedly a limited edition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the company.  It's only fitting that I share images of the Royal portable and its shiny first generation ancestor.

More on the chrome and wood grain Royal portable at

What's in a name?  Why is this typewriter named Margo?  Well, MEK and I like Wes Jackson movies.  The machine is all shiny and glitzy, but rough around the edges like Royal Tenenbaum.  This machine doesn't look all that masculine to us, especially with Jane's name on the paper table. She is vaguely exotic, has a mysterious past and is a little tarnished. So Margo Tenenbaum it is.  Bonus:  She even likes guys that are rough around the edges, just like Margo!

One thing that I absolutely love about this machine is that Royal didn't skimp on the number of gold plated parts.  How many modern "special edition" cars have you seen with a carbon console insert and some chrome bezels on the dashboard?  Even portions of the ribbon vibrator are gold plated.

Here are a couple of parting shots for the road.

Unless a zealous dragon or hafling takes Margo away, you will see more of her.  It's going to be hard to put her in a case since she complements the slate bench so well.  So shiny is the Precious...