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Friday 18 January 2013

On This Day in Typewriter History: Wrestling with the Adler Modell 7

PART 238
I imagine I am like most typewriter collectors in that, when I try out a very old machine - a thrust-action Adler Modell 7, for example - I am delighted to be able to get it working and typing well. My mind isn't sufficiently mechanically attuned to wander off beyond that point, to ponder on what might have improved this typewriter.
Any shortcomings or limitations that may be inherent in the mechanical design (in this case, originally by the genius Wellington Parker Kidder) would seldom if ever bother me in machines of a certain age.
However, it's interesting to learn of some of the very real problems that the people making and marketing these machines had to grapple with more than a century ago. 
Take, for example, German mechanical engineer Franz Paul Strauss, who in 1908 set out to find feasible ways to improve the Modell 7 for Adlerwerke Vormals Heinrich Kleyer AG of Frankfurt-am-Main. Essentially, Strauss wanted more and larger characters, but found himself restricted by the way in which the thrust-action typewriter works.
In the specifications of a patent issued on this day (January 17) in 1911, Strauss runs us through his thoughts on the matter: 
"In practical use, this class of typewriters [thrust-action] has been shown to possess the disadvantages that the characters must be made very small in consequence of the narrow space available for them, so that the employment of large characters is rendered difficult; Furthermore the number of the characters cannot be increased above 90 without a further decrease of their width, whereas an increase in the number of characters is desirable and even necessary in the Slavonic languages, because the alphabets of these languages contain more letters than, say, the Latin alphabet.
"It has therefore been attempted to construct typewriting machines having as large, and as many characters, as possible in order that they might be used for the various purposes in the different languages, and possessing, besides, as large a printing power as possible so as to be able to obtain a large number of copies.
"These advantages could be attained for typewriting machines provided with typebars of the kind mentioned above, by removing the characters farther from the printing point until the arc in which the type is arranged around the printing point is increased so far that sufficient space for an increase in number and width of the characters would be available.
"There are, however, obstacles to this simple expedient, because the shifting of the characters away from the printing point for one unit lengthens and broadens the whole type set with its type bars to three times this unit. Hence the whole typewriter would assume such an unusual size that its practical and convenient use would be seriously affected.
"The object of the present invention is to avoid these difficulties, and to this end each type bar is guided horizontally upon a radially slotted plate, which is in only half the length of the stroke of the typebars. Besides this the well known movement, consisting of a bent double arm type lever and a crank lever, is used. The short guide plate only serves to guide the typebar in a horizontal direction during the last part of the stroke, in which the known tail-piece fixed to the typebar is guided upon this slotted plate. The tail-piece however can be made much shorter than hitherto usual so that even if one more row of keys be used, the machine becomes scarcely longer than before."

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