The Early Typewriter Collectors’ Association election for new Board of Directors

In my mail today was the official ballot for the ETCA Board of Directors election, which will determine the makeup of the Board for the next 5 years and thus, the direction and focus of the Association and magazine. I will be sending in my ballot and a check for renewal of my membership tomorrow. The check, because the recent churn of editors and publication schedules has left me unsure of when my subscription actually expires, and also because I’d like to express my approval of the slate of candidates under consideration for the board by including the check with my ballot.

And yes, I very much approve. Given the mission statements each candidate has made on the ballot, I’d like to vote for all of them, but I’ll have to choose just five. One thing is for sure, though: the content of ETC is going to change. Not drastically, to be sure, but the board members under consideration seem to universally favor more content of interest to the sort of collector who has surfaced in droves in the past few years: collectors who are mainly interested in post-war machines which they actually *use* without any particular regard to rarity or value.

In other words: me, and many of you.

This is great news. ETC has, for the past few years at least, usually contained at least one article per issue devoted to the machines I’m really interested in. The “Portables, Etc.” column is invariably the first page I turn to when I get each new issue. Not that I’m completely disinterested in older machines – I read those articles too, and enjoy learning what other collectors and researchers have dug up, and certainly as the TWDB project runs out of new serial number lists to compile into it’s pages, I’ll be turning my attention to the more obscure manufacturer pages and updating them using ETC articles as one of the sources. There’s certainly a great deal of information there that can be distilled into a paragraph or two of facts related to the manufacturer, and in those cases where the ETC PDF is available online we can link directly to the article via the “History” links section of that Manufacturer page. But, as far as my own collecting interest goes, I have very little interest in having really early typewriters in my collection. I prefer a good, workhorse Brother JP-1 over a Blick or Oliver every day of the week. It’s just the way I roll.

And I’m getting the feeling that future issues of ETC will contain much more content I can actually relate to. Happy Dance! :D

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One interesting thing I noted in the Nominee Biographical Statements on the ETCA ballot was that there is clearly a discussion underway regarding the way the ETC magazine should be published. Specifically regarding Hard Copy vs Electronic publication as PDF. As typewriter collectors, we obviously have a thing for analog-on-paper communications for reasons including archival longevity, tactile enjoyment and keeping the format alive in an increasingly digital world. Many of the Board nominees explain where they stand on this issue in their bio statements, and across the board, the consensus seems to be that issues should be print-only for a period of two years and then released as PDF on the etconline.org site.

I certainly understand the reasoning for this stance. After all, ETC is a very niche magazine with a small subscriber base, and many publications have discovered that publishing your content online in competition with your print journal is a pretty sure way to kill off your print journal real fast.

You’ll get no back-talk from me on that point, but to be perfectly frank, I dislike only having access to a printed copy. If I had my druthers, I’d subscribe to a PDF version, and would really love to have the option to order back issues in PDF at a reduced cost over the printed version. Over my few years as a subscriber-member, I’ve lost or damaged many of the paper issues I’ve gotten (vagaries of moving house and not having a proper filing system), and so much of the content I’ve already subscribed to is now lost to me. Additionally, there are at least a dozen issues between where the last issue available for download online ends and the issue where I started subscribing. Buying them as paper back issues is not an attractive option for me for two reasons:

1) I’ve already proven that I easily lose the paper copies.
2) I’d prefer to have every ETC issue as PDF in a folder on my hard drive so I can use search tools to find information on a specific machine or topic I happen to be researching at any given moment. This has been a handy method I use when searching the 80 issues I currently have in PDF format (available at etconline.org), but I’m missing the 20 or so latest issues which have most of the interesting stuff on the post-war portables I like best. It would be dreamy to have some way for an ETCA member to obtain the missing issues as PDF. I’d be on that like white on rice.

Now as far as that being a thing that actually happens, I dunno. Doesn’t seem likely given the fierce dedication to print, but it’s certainly something that I’d like to see as an option. Given the explosion in typewriter collecting interest that has grown in the past few years (due in large part to the explosion of online resources dedicated to typewriters and typewriter collecting such as The Typosphere and TWDB, among many others) it seems clear that there’s a market hungry for content. Maybe offering electronic subscriptions via Itunes or Amazon could do very interesting things for the ETC subscriber base. Fortunately, I am not under consideration as an ETCA Board Member, so I don’t have to tilt at that particular windmill.

IMAG1541 The Early Typewriter Collectors Association election for new Board of Directors
Cat-Butt Prints are just one of the many hazards to my copies of ETC magazine. Did you know that if you get them wet, the paper finish dissolves and turns into super glue? I have a small stack of them that is now exactly that: a stack, all glued together. *sigh*

ETC and the TWDB

Let’s face it, typewriter collectors these days tend to fall into two different camps: the “old school” collector who favors antique machines that are rare and historically important, and the “new school” collector who prefers post war machines that work well for daily use. There is plenty of overlap, but generally speaking, these two camps run in different circles.

ETCA primarily caters to the Old School, and TWDB primarily caters to the New School. There have been efforts to bring the two camps closer together, and there is certainly progress but there is still a fairly sizable divide in the way each camp communicates with each other, and a clear divide in the primary interests of each camp. It’s a shame, obviously, because as a “new schooler”, I feel I could learn a very great deal from the old school if there was less of a gap in communication. Vice-versa, the “old school” could certainly benefit from the fresh blood and energy of the “new schoolers”. There’s just an awful lot of good potential to be gained from these camps coming closer together. I feel that’s something that pretty much everyone involved can agree with.

The present Board election for ETCA was likely spurred in part by a desire to bridge this gap, and it’s the right move considering the candidates up for election. It almost doesn’t matter which candidates get elected, as most of them seem to have a pretty common vision for the new direction that the Association will take in the future.

This leads me to ponder if there is a way that I, in my role as Archivist for the TWDB, can contribute to this Brave New Future. Perhaps a way to bring TWDB and ETC closer together in a way that benefits both and serves to help bridge the remaining gap between the New and Old Schools. Methods I’ve been pondering include:

1) The above mentioned linking to online ETC PDFs to Manufacturer History sections in TWDB. This is already something I intend to do in earnest in the coming year. Of course, it doesn’t have to be just me. Any Typewriter Hunter level member can do it.

BENEFIT: to ETCA, rather intense exposure via linking to the absurd amounts of traffic that the TWDB gets. Surely some of those people will read the articles and be intrigued enough to want to join. To TWDB, the benefit of a ready pool of well-researched articles addressing the history of individual Manufacturers.

2) I’ve pondered writing articles for ETC, but my command of the language borders on exotically quaint, my sentences run on and on, and I’d publish anything I would write about on the TWDB or my blog anyway, which wouldn’t really work with ETC’s “print-only” philosophy. Additionally, my focus tends to be tracking down and compiling terse lists of data where ETC tends to be about telling the stories behind the history. Not really my strong point.

However, I have also considered writing something called “TWDB RFI” (Typewriter Database Request For Information) articles, which would focus on specific Manufacturer categories and detail what information I do have along with a solicitation for copies of Age Lists, sales ephemera, dated advertising and whatever other data ETC members might have for that specific Manufacturer, to be used for updating that Manufacturer’s page in the TWDB. Essentially, putting the question directly to the people most likely to have the data, and collecting the result in distilled form on TWDB.

BENEFIT: To TWDB, duh. Tapping the experts. ‘Nuff said. To ETCA, not real sure. It would fill up a couple column inches and possibly encourage interaction and involvement between the members, but I haven’t really thought that part out all the way. Once the newly elected Board convenes, I might float that idea to them and see if it gains some flesh and bones.

In any case, I have now sent in my ballot and check. If you are an ETCA member, send yours in before the 15th of January. Vote early, vote often, vote the Typospherian Ticket! :D

How to Re-Spool a Brother Typewriter Ribbon Cassette (JP-10/12)

It’s nice having a fellow Typospherian only a few blocks away – handy for having someone around who might just like the machines that you feel guilty about not buying, but just don’t quite want for yourself. Key Snap and I tend to text each other when we see a machine in the thrifts that we may not want ourselves, but think the other one might. It was just such a text which led to me obtaining a hard-to-find Brother JP-12, a machine that I’ve been wanting to examine closely for research on the Brother page.

Not that it’s a particularly desirable machine – the JP-12 is just a rattly plastic-shelled Electric Typebar machine produced for at least a decade or more by Brother between about 1970 to at least 1981 (the date of this machine, verified by serial number and date on documentation). It’s an oddly-designed machine with fat back hips like most of the JP-11 golfball machines I’ve seen, and bizarrely, it’s power-assisted *carriage-shifter* rather than a segment-shifter – this in a machine made in the 80’s!

That said, it does have a nice touch, and if the shifter actually worked and the motor didn’t increasingly whine louder as the machine stayed powered up, I would have done this post as a typecast. I even took the trouble of figuring out how to reload the proprietary ribbon cassette that Brother chose to use for this JP-12 (and on JP-10’s, probably JP-11’s and 14’s as well). Since the machine itself is crap, I guess I might as well just show how I did that, so we get *some* value out of the poor thing.

IMAG1528 How to Re Spool a Brother Typewriter Ribbon Cassette (JP 10/12)
Step 1: take the ribbon cassette out of the machine (it just lifts out) and place it bottom-side up on the table. You’ll notice that the bottom covers are just snapped onto the cassette body with 3 small plastic snap-tabs each. use a small screwdriver to delicately undo these tabs (don’t break them) and remove the covers. The ribbon inside will be one of those nasty black/white correction ribbons. remove it and throw it away, but keep the spools it’s wrapped on.
IMAG1534 How to Re Spool a Brother Typewriter Ribbon Cassette (JP 10/12)
Step Two: Take your new ribbon and tie a knot in the free end. insert it into the cartridge spool like so, red end facing the sawtoothed side of the spool. Wind as much of the ribbon as you can onto the spool and cut. The cartridge spools are small, so a full-sized ribbon will have a few feet worth left over.
IMAG1533 How to Re Spool a Brother Typewriter Ribbon Cassette (JP 10/12)
Remember, red side towards the sawtooth side of the spool! note that the machine itself can’t use the red because mechanically, the machine is set up to use that side of the ribbon only in “correction” mode. Note also, that the Correction Key won’t do what you expect anymore. :D
IMAG1531 How to Re Spool a Brother Typewriter Ribbon Cassette (JP 10/12)
Step Three: thread the free end of the ribbon through the closed guides in the cassette, then tie a knot in that end and attach to the other spool, red side towards sawtooth edge of spool.
IMAG1535 How to Re Spool a Brother Typewriter Ribbon Cassette (JP 10/12)
Step Four: when everything looks properly threaded, just snap the covers back on (carefully! they’re small and delicate!)
IMAG1539 How to Re Spool a Brother Typewriter Ribbon Cassette (JP 10/12)
Tada! One freshly-reloaded Brother Ribbon Cassette! I suspect you could keep doing this over and over to replenish the ribbon, assuming the machine itself still works and you like it enough to care about having a fresh ribbon in it. I seriously doubt anyone on earth actually has new replacement ribbons for these machines. They were likely discontinued at least a decade ago.

Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF-50 Computer Interface

2014 12 03 a Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface 2014 12 03 g Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface 2014 12 03 b Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7856 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7857 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface 2014 12 03 c Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7858 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface

1983 MW catalog brother Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface
Here’s the IF-50 sold as an option for the Correctronic 50 in the Montgomery Wards 1983 Christmas Catalog. $169! Now, 30 years later, I found mine on Ebay for $14, with free shipping.

2014 12 03 d Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7850 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7848 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7852 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7851 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface

IMG 7849 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface
The port I’ve been searching for 2 months to find.

2014 12 03 e Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7853 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface IMG 7855 Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer Interface 2014 12 03 h Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer InterfaceNow, guess what I’m going to be doing with this baby? If your guess involves certain Paleocomputers I keep in my corral, your guess would be correct. Stay tuned for 1980’s style printing fun!

In the meantime, how about we let the Brother Professional 90 tell us a bit about itself:

2014 12 03 f Thrift Gods Hear My Plea: Brother Professional 90 and IF 50 Computer InterfacePS: 5 more to 3000 Galleries in the Typewriter Database, where this machine is now the 2995th machine entered. (:

Camera of the Week: Fujica AX-3

IMG 7839 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3When Key Snap texted me asking if I wanted a couple grab bags of random camera stuff that someone had just gifted to him, I of course jumped at it.  A free camera to play with? Yes, please! (:

When the contents of the bags were sorted, I found I had a nice 80-200mm zoom that would fit my Olympus OM-1 body, three nice Fuji-mount lenses and a Fujica AX-3 that fit the lenses. Also included was a Minolta Maxxum body with no lens, but with a half-shot roll of film inside.

IMG 7839a Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3So, of course I pulled the half-shot roll out of the Maxxum in the darkroom and re-loaded it into the AX-3, wound back to frame 0 to double-expose onto whatever the previous owner of the Minolta body had shot. The film was ISO100, so I set the camera to ISO200 for my overshooting.

2014 11 27 3 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3 2014 11 27 4 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3 2014 11 27 5 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3Caffenol-C developing is actually pretty good about bringing reasonable contrast and detail out the ancient C-41 Kodak film. The double-exposed frames offer tantalizing ghosts populating my random shots from around the yard. The ghosts are having a birthday party and a ghost woman in the last set of frames nearly bumps into my shadow as both of us back into each other holding cameras to our faces in different places and times.

2014 11 27 2 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3 2014 11 27 1 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3Surprisingly, towards the end of the roll, the non-double-exposed shots turned out pretty well too, despite being underexposed. Not a bad-performing camera at all, the AX-3 was the “middle-of-the-road” 35mm SLR offering by Fuji in the 1980’s. AP autoexposure and a full manual mode, simple operation and some interesting features (a trap-door light blocker for the eyepiece – I’ve never seen that on a camera before), I nevertheless had to dig up a manual online just to figure out how to turn it on. The power switch is disguised as if it were an unobtrusive molded body part,  and is impossible to find intuitively.

IMG 7846 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3Getting the thing working was easy. It takes the same battery as a Canon AE-1, so I had a few handy. Once I figured out the power switch, I was good to go. A nice, easy-to-use shooter with smooth-working, bright glass – I think the only bad thing I can say about it other than the hidden power switch is that I’m not fond of the metallic ringing shutter sound it produces. It’s not really unpleasant, but it sounds cheap compared to many other 35mm bodies I have that give a more meaty, non-ringing “THOCK” on shutter release.

But for free, I can’t complain a bit. (:

Oh look, fellow Typospherian Vikram has one of these too, but his doesn’t seem to work.

Coming up on Camera of the Week:

IMG 7834 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3

IMG 7837 Camera of the Week: Fujica AX 3
$3.68 worth of Polaroid fun. Best if used before 1980? We’ll see about that…

A Typecast Blog by The Right Reverend Theodore Munk