The outbreak of hostilities in Europe ended this, as only watime essentials could be shipped in. These included tractors, to keep Australia’s agricultural industry going. But Australians were told by the federal government that if they owned a typewriter, they should hold on to it and look after it, as there would be no more typewriters coming into the country until war ended.
A similar type of practice resumed in the 1960s, when an Australian company imported already assembled typewriters from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Japan and relabelled them with brand names such as Pacific, Waverley and Majestic (below). These were mostly Maritsas and Consuls, but also Silver-Seikos and Nakajima ALLs.
Another brand to reach Australia in the ’60s, but in smaller numbers, was Commodore. These so-called “Canadian-made’’ Commodore typerwriters are not all that common anywhere anymore, and when they do appear on eBay, they often excite some curiosity.
The origins of a Commodore typewriter could be German, Bulgarian, Czech, Spanish or even American. They were either imported in parts and assembled in Toronto or already assembled (sometimes in Italy) and relabelled. But as with this Tower Commodore on eBay, the claim is made on the back that it is “Made in Canada’’. Commodore supplied typewriters for Sears Roebuck in both the US and Canada under a deal dating back to the mid-1950s. Tower is a common rebranding of typewriters by Sears, usually for Smith-Coronas. But as Alan Seaver points out on his Machines of Loving Grace website, these Commodores are Czech Consuls. They are unlikely to have been actually manufactured in Canada. This is Alan’s own Commodore, an Educator (bottom photo).
A Commodore model No 1 desktop that I have donated to the Queanbeyan Print Museum outside Canberra was made in Thuringia in Germany by Rheinmetall-Borsig A.G. for the Toronto-based company of Polish-born former concentration camp internee Jack Tramiel. The Commodore No 1 is actually a Remington Super-Riter of Superman TV series fame.
Tramiel was born on December 13, 1928 in
Tramiel quit the army in 1952 and the next year became a
citizen. In 1953, while working as a taxi driver and as a repairman, he bought a shore in the Bronx to repair office machinery, and later named it Commodore Portable Typewriters. Tramiel wanted a military-style name for his company, but General and Admiral were already taken, so after seeing a car with the name Commodore while on a trip to US , he settled on Commodore. Tramiel and a partner bought 200 IBM typewriters from the United Nations and repaired them for a stock. With the profit they bought Singer typewriters. But there was little money to be made in repairing typewriters, and Tramiel found better business in selling imported Berlin , Adler and Everest typewriters. These could be sold cheaper than US brands. In 1955, to circumvent import restrictions imposed by the Warsaw Pact – which forbade Czech products going directly to the US – Tramiel set up Commodore Business Machines in Toronto. In Olympia , Tramiel established an agency for Everest, then started making Consul typewriters from the designs of Czech company Zbrojovka Brno. “We bought the parts in Canada Czechoslovakia and assembled them in , so our typewriters were true Canadian products,” Tramiel later claimed. Canada
In the 1960s, Japanese typewriters drove North America manufacturers out of business, so Tramiel looked for new markets, taking his cue from
and starting with adding machines and calculators. But computers brought his greatest success. He introduced the first personal computer, the Commodore PET, and his machines made computers affordable for just about everyone. Tramiel’s company made the Commodore 64 and the Commodore Amiga home computers. The Commodore 64, released in August 1982, is the best selling single personal computer model of all time. Because of the 64, Commodore grew from sales of $46 million in 1977 to more than $680 million in 1983. Japan