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Friday, 16 November 2012

The Transition from Underwood to Olivetti Portable Typewriters

I am often asked about the exact dates at which Underwood portable typewriters sold in the US ceased to be Underwoods and became relabelled Olivettis. Also, about when the Olivetti Lettera 32 and later Olivetti models reached the US market as Underwoods.
Underwood continued to advertise Underwood typewriters until at least late 1959.
Olivetti had begun the process of taking over Underwood earlier that year. But the sudden death of Adriano Olivetti in late February 1960 came as Olivetti was expanding into the electronics sector and also trying to restructure its finances. It had run into massive debts, incurred through borrowings for the Underwood takeover. In gaining a majority holding in Underwood, Olivetti had had to pay off Underwood's own huge debts, and had left itself financially exposed as a result.
As the new Olivetti management team struggled to deal with all this, the transition of Underwood to Olivetti portable typewriters in the US was delayed until May 1961. We can get an accurate guide to dates through the various advertising campaigns in major US magazines:
24 November 1961
8 December 1961
18 May 1962
28 August 1964
13 May 1966
30 August 1968
29 November 1968

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