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Thursday 20 March 2014

Electric 'Writing Ball' with a Roof on Top

Did you know that the German Imperial typewriter was also the "German Blickensderfer"?
Did you know that the German Eureka index typewriter was a "small Hall"?
And did you know the Faber's Elektrograph electric typewriter was a sort of deflated "Hansen Writing Ball" with a little roof on top?
I didn't, either, until last night.
But the most interesting thing of all, as I found today, was that all three were invented by the same man, Karl Heinrich Kochendörfer, a Leipzig sewing-machine manufacturer.
He started with the Eureka in 1898. It's not to be confused with a slightly more common wheel index machine also called a Eureka, but it might easily be confused with a cut-down Hall index.
In 1900, eight years before the Moya Typewriter Company in Leicester, England, became the Imperial Typewriter Company, Kochendörfer brought out his Imperial, and, with the use of a typewheel, it looked mightily like the then seven-year-old Blickensderfer 5. But it was twice as heavy at 5kg. And it cost 250 marks.
In 1923, Typewriter Topics wrote, "Not of long duration as to existence in the field of writing machines was the German Imperial, invented and manufactured by Heinrich Kochendörfer of Leipzig, who also was responsible for the Eureka typewriter. This Imperial of German origin should not be confused with the better known machine of the same name of English manufacture and described in a later classification. The German Imperial was not unlike the Blickensderfer in that it employed a similar typewheel and ink roll mechanism." It also had double shift.
In 1901 Kochendörfer went on to design the Faber's Elektrograph, an early German electric typewriter.
The power came from batteries, but where the financial backing came from nobody to this day is certain. It is called a Faber, and Mares says it was "the production of Dr Faber of Berlin", but Ernst Martin was not sure Pastor Faber of Berlin was involved.
Martin said the Elektrograph "had vertically downward thrusting type lever, [similar] to the [Hansen] Writing Ball". Mares said it had 80 keys (Adler thought it had a three-bank keyboard, which it didn't; the Imperial did), a platen on a mounted platform "à la planchette, travelling right to left and from top to bottom of the baseboard, and the paper was laid flat thereon against guides and held by a clip.
"The types were suspected above the platen, and were arranged somewhat after the fashion of the Hansen Writing Ball. On a key being touched, an electric current was transmitted to the piston carrying the corresponding letter, and the impression made. The writing was wholly visible.
"Six elements were sufficient to secure a good imprint, and the switching on of further power added such force as was required to increase the blow to any desired degree, and an almost indefinite number of carbon copies thus obtained."
Mares wrote in 1909 as if the Elektrograph had been manufactured. It never was. I wish it had been. I love the look of it. Just as Richard Polt holds out hope of one day finding a Sphinx, my wish is to find a Faber's Elektrograph with the little roof still on top. But since Adler said 1997 that a German Imperial would have fetched four figures, I guess an Elektrograph would be even more expensive.


Peter said...

Congratulations! Your counter seems to have added a digit.

Your dedication to the Typosphere has been noticed and appreciated- over a million times! An enviable accomplishment!

schrijfmachine said...

Congratulations on a million visits! Greetings, Frank

Richard P said...

Over a million, yay!

You can bet that if an Elektrograph turns up, the collectors' community will be abuzz.

Miguel Chávez said...

One million congratulations, Robert!

I'm intrigued by these machines, I wonder how they'd measure up to things like the Sholes & Glidden in terms of ease of use and speed...

Scott K said...

Crikey. What a bunch of interesting machines. Very nice discovery. And congratulations on the 1 million!

Steve Snow said...

That typewriter with a roof really appeals to me! I would fit it with miniature gutters. It would be awesome to uncover one in an attic somewhere.

Contrats on the seven digits too, what time did it click over out of interest?