AN 'ELECTRIC' MANUAL EXPERIENCE
One of my favourite typewriters to write with is the Smith-Corona 5TE. I like to think of it as my "Clayton's typewriter". It's "the electric typewriter you're using when you're not using an electric typewriter" - if that makes any sense. Years ago a non-alcoholic drink called Clayton's was promoted in Australia as "the drink you're having when you're not having a drink". To all intents and purposes, you might seem to be sitting at a bar drinking Scotch, yet completely safe from the breathalyzer and the risk of a drink-driving conviction. It caught on.
With the 5TE, I feel comfortable that I won't be drummed out of the Typosphere. My point is that the 5TE isn't, strictly speaking, an electric typewriter, at least not an electric typewriter as we came to know them 12 years later, with a powered carriage return and turn of the platen. (I bought my first true Smith-Corona electric in 1969.) All that's powered on the 5TE is the keyboard. Otherwise it's just a Smith-Corona Series 5 portable typewriter. So it presents the best of both worlds, in my book - swift, even printing, but with what is ostensibly a manual typewriter.
Now I think I've found a manual portable typewriter that types like an electric - that is, as in a 5TE electric. I realise this sounds rather far-fetched, but when I began typing on this Hispano Olivetti Pluma 22 last night, I really thought I was getting the same light, rapid typebar movement as the 5TE, with the same resulting evenness of print. The keys had a really taut feel about them, and yet the action was as light as a feather. I slept on this thought overnight, got up and tried the Pluma 22 again this morning, and got exactly the same impression. It's truly remarkable. Should I now dub the Pluma "the manual you're using when you think you're using an electric"?