Thursday, January 14, 2010

Even More Typewriters

It was on this most recent visit to meet some students that I saw another typewriter, an old Underwood that looks to be about thirty-or-so years old (pic 1, above). Seeing as how I really like these contraptions, I just had to drag it out from the lower shelf it was resting on just so I could take a good look and snap a photo of it. I've shared photos of a Royal, Olympias, Brothers, and now, above, Underwoods. Sadly, this Underwood in pic 1 was in terrible condition, even worse than when my own two machines broke down. The ribbon had stuck and torn, there was rust and dust on the outside and in its innards, and I wasn't sure if inserted paper would catch and hold anymore, or even if the roller would turn. The typewriter had clearly been set aside and placed out of the way, but I didn't want to pry it open seeing as 1) I was already handling property not my own and without permission; and 2) I risked getting myself covered in filth if I did. Yup, it was that dirty. I just took my photo and placed it back on the shelf.

One of my regrets from last year was not taking the chance to buy an old, black Underwood, much older than the one in pic 1. This other one is probably circa 1930's or 1940's, making it at least 70 years old (see pic 2, above). It was being sold "as is" for about P3,500, which probably meant that it would've needed more than just "a little fixing". I balked at the last minute though since I wasn't sure about spare parts or how to go about getting it back into working order. Now, in hindsight, I regret not getting it and worrying about repairs later, though it is highly possible that if I had purchased it, I would now be kicking myself in the ass for doing so because the cost of refurbishment might be much too high! You've heard about buyer's remorse, right? Well, I've got a classic case of non-buyer's remorse, mixed with a generous helping of double-thinking myself!

Contrast the Underwoods and those other typewriters I've blogged about with yet one more, one belonging to another of my relatives. Behold! The Swintec 7040 Electronic--not electric, mind you--Typewriter (see pic 3, above). It types as softly as a computer keyboard (no clickety-clack from this machine), has a one-line LCD screen, and prints as quietly as an ink-jet printer. It even comes with its own built-in correction tape; you just press an "erase" button after positioning the marker on the error--and voila!--the error is gone, so cleanly and neatly it looks as if there had been nothing printed there before. Those of you who know how messy using correction fluid or correction tape manually is like, will know what I mean when I say that erasing errors with the Swintec 7040 is like having the softest, smoothest, gentlest hands of the most skillful artist apply the correction fluid for you. The thing even comes with its own dictionary, as well as so many other features. And it still costs more than US$700! One would think that with computers and ink-jet printers costing much less, this machine's price would also have gone down, or maybe the model would've been discontinued. But no! It's still here, hanging around. The funny thing is that my relatives now use one of those all-in-one scanner/printer/fax gizmos for their document needs, so their fully functioning and multi-featured Swintec 7040 just sits there on a side-table, unused. Probably much like any other typewriter nowadays.

But the Swintec 7040 leaves me feeling a bit cold. I mean, it's nice and all, and if I needed to whip up a document quick without booting up the computer, I'll bet I could do so with it. But I think I'd prefer using one of the manual ones. For all the Swintec's features, the feel of a manual typewriter is just something I'd choose over the smoothness of the "Electronic" typewriter (I'll just have to bear with manually applying correction fluid and tape). I wouldn't need to plug it in, either; and if I did have to plug something in, even my old Brother electric typewriter would serve me fine.


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