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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Adler Universal 200, 390 and 400 Standard Typewriter: Machine and Manual

This Adler Universal 200 was brought over here yesterday to be serviced. Not that it needed much servicing. It has clearly been well cared for and serviced during and after its full working life, which probably ended as much as 30 or more years ago. It was an office machine in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, and a former diplomat bought it when DFAT was selling off outmoded office equipment in the mid-1980s. This model was made under Litton's ownership of Triumph-Adler, meaning it was probably made post-1969, possibly in 1974.
The man who bought it had to pay a deposit of $50 to borrow the manual and photocopy it. He very quickly photocopied it so he could get his $50 back ASAP, and I have done the best I can in scanning the photocopied pages. In apparent haste, the top of some pages was lopped off in the photocopying process - not much I can do about that all these years later. I'm not absolutely certain all the pages from the manual are here (missing, I think, are pages with "explanations" of the numbers in Spanish and Dutch?). But I have scanned in what I have and placed them below in the best order I can figure.
The manual covers three models, the 200, 390 and 400 - there is even a page suggesting "further possibilities" - such as a device for the blind, for special line spaces and for decimal tabulation with punctuation, whatever all that means (journalists never needed such niceties).
I have used a couple of Adler Universal 200s before (in fact, there's one at my front door, acting as a doorstop). But never one in this class. It's a truly amazing typer, which probably reflects the care it has been given all these years.
I note these machines come up fairly regularly on eBay and Gumtree in Australia and Britain, and one 200 is for sale in Texas in the US for $299.90 (the 200 is also c0vered by Jake Fischer in the Typewriter Database). There is also a 390 for sale at £10 on Gumtree in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in England, but I can't find an image of a 400. A 200 has just sold in Geelong in Victoria, and another is for sale on eBay in Campbelltown in Sydney for $79.20. If anyone is looking for a really good standard, they wouldn't go far wrong with one of these, if it's in good condition.
On the Yahoo online typewriter forum, German collector and historian Thomas F├╝rtig noted a couple of years ago: "The Adler Universal 200 was the first model of the newer series made by Adler in Germany (production started in 1968): designed to make production cheaper than the older Universal models. That means: Quality is a little bit less than the older Universals and Olympia SG models, but still a very reliable machine." You can put a carbon copy of that in for me!


Bill M said...

That is a really neat looking typewriter.
Thanks for the fine report. If it types anything like my Adlers it must be a real pleasure to use. My Adler machines have the slickeset, fastest easiest to retrun carriages of any typewiter. The typing action is just as you describe. Only the Tippa fails. Even though my 47 Underwood office size typewriter is super fast and snappy the carriage is no where near as slick as one on an Adler.

Donald Lampert said...

Thanks for the report, and the manual! I've got the 1955 Adler Universal, and it is a dream. A solid and beautiful piece of German craftsmanship. Smooth and flowing, and with all the features of the Olympia SG-1, including the removable carriage assembly.
My only complaint is that it is a bit noisy, but that may be because of it's age, and some missing soundproofing,