Ancestor of the laptop, too: compact -- heck, tiny -- and made of modern, super-light materials in the first decade of a new century, it had an innovative keyboard layout and lots of features for the on-the-go user. Sound like an Eee or one of their competitors?
It's not. It's the Standard Folding Typewriter, the very first portable machine. Weighing in at five and a half pounds at a time when a desktop typewriters were upwards of 20# and made of satin-finish aluminum, it must've looked like something beamed in from The Future when it hit the market. Never heard of 'em?
Yes, y'have: after three years and 12,000 machines, the little machine was redesigned to use aluminum castings and stamped sheet steel and given a new name: Corona. As in "Smith-Corona," a few mergers on; Corona just grew and kept on growing. The little Corona Number 3 started out with a shiny black paint job and was eventually offered in red, blue and green. It was built from 1912 through 1941 and in staggeringly huge numbers; you can still find them today, generally for the same $50 they sold for new.
I have one (of course), picked up at a garage sale over fifteen years ago, dirty and nonfunctioning. A trip to one of our local repair shops put it back in good order and I use it occasionally. The three-row keyboard can be maddening but it only requires a light touch on the keys and has a nice, crisp "feel." Controls are where anyone used to a manual typewriter reaches for them and it is surprisingly stable for a 6.5-pound machine. (Yes, the design changes added a pound). Built, per the serial number, in 1929. It's a wonderful device!
...This is also a lead-in to an interesting bit of "small world" trivia I'll get around to posting later.
Update: Typewriter Day is 23 June. So I may just type-blog the upcoming BlogMeet to celebrate!
YANKEE RADIO TOOL KIT, #106
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