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Wednesday 21 September 2011

On This Day in Typewriter History (CXIX)

Of the many, predominantly shiny black portable typewriters produced in Germany between the two World Wars, the Mercedes, Rheinmetall and Torpedo tend to stand out from the pack. The Continental is also especially stylish, and is a favourite with most collectors.
The Klein-Continental portable first appeared in 1929, by which time Alfred Richard Georg Vogt had succeeded Carl Julius Mohns to become the Wanderer-Werke company’s chief typewriter design engineer at the Winklhofer and Jaenicke works in Siegmar-Schönau.
Vogt took the lead Mohns set when Wanderer-Werke first started making typewriters, in 1904, by patenting his designs in the US.
Vogt applied for the first of these on this day in 1921, for a shift key locking device.
Vogt also patented in the US an intermediate line spacing mechanism (one which avoided using more than one feed ratchet, detent pawl and feed roller) in 1926.
In August 1931, Vogt applied for patents in Germany for his famous Continental Silenta office typewriter. His US patent for the same machine was issued in July 1939.
The Silenta was notable, among other things, for Vogt’s type-bar action design. The late Tilman Elster said of the Silenta, “This used swinging weights for momentum, as did Remington, but only had two characters (one type slug) operated by each type bar linkage set.
“[While] The Silenta outwardly resembled the Remington Noiseless, internally the design was wholly different - it was much simpler, much more robust and much better made. In fact, the Silenta was deliberately designed to be an improvement over the contemporary Remington Noiseless in every point; this is as much stated in the patents for it.”
Julius Mohns had designed the first Continental typewriter, the Standard, in 1904. It became one of Germany’s biggest selling writing machines.
Mohns also worked for Seidel and Naumann of Dresden and designed the Ideal B for them in 1912. The Ideals A2 and A4 were designed by Americans Edwin Earl Barney and Frank J. Tanner.
Wanderer-Werke made bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, machine tools and office machines.
The company was founded in Saxony in 1885 by mechanics Johann Baptist Winklhofer (born June 23, 1859, in Munich-Bogenhausen) and Richard Adolf Jaenicke (born Christmas Day, 1858, in Chemnitz)(pictured below).
It was at first called Chemnitz Velociped Winklhofer & Jaenicke Depot for the sale and repair of bicycles.
Wanderer Fahrradwerke emerged from this partnership and in 1894 Winklhofer and Jaenicke established their headquarters in Schönau. Works were extended to Siegmar in 1927. The first motorcycle was built in 1902, followed by typewriters, “computing” (adding) machines and in 1905 cars.

By 1934 Wanderer-Werke was the biggest office machine manufacturer in Europe. In 1939 it had 9300 workers. But World War II ended those glory days.
Under the post-was plebiscite signed in Saxony on June 30, 1946, Wanderer-Werke became a state-owned East German enterprise. Large parts of its works were dismantled and taken as war reparations to the Soviet Union.
Tilman Elster wrote that during the war, Wanderer-Werke tooling for making portable typewriters was relocated to Belgium.
Tilman also speculated that some post-war Russian-made portable typewriters showed “similarities to the Continental machines made pre-war, and it may be that the design was, as usual for the USSR in those days, copied, then ‘corrected’ and placed into production."
Meanwhile, however, former owners and managers re-established a Wanderer-Werke company in Munich in West Germany. This made bicycles and mopeds, and Wanderer-Werke AG in the 1950s again became involved in producing office equipment, but not typewriters.
Wanderer sold an electronic desktop calculator, the Logatronic, but in April 1968 computer pioneer Heinz Nixdorf paid 17.2 million deutschmarks to take control of the Cologne operation. Bicycles called Wanderer were still being made under licence within the past five years, by Altenberge in Münster.
Nonetheless, Wanderer-Werke AG folded in May last year.

1 comment:

maschinengeschrieben said...

Another great post. I enjoyed it very much. I agree Continental's are very high class.