Unlocking the Best in IBM Typewriters: 7 Must-Have Features

Unlocking the Best in IBM Typewriters: 7 Must-Have Features

Posted by Jason Marsdale on Aug 14, 2019


IBM Typewriters: Finding Perfection in 7 Key Features

You don't necessarily have to believe that a craftsperson is only as good as their tools to want quality tools. Somewhere in the smoky veneer of 'fake it till you make it' is a desire to be the part.

Likewise, some people live in a world where accessories make the case. IBM typewriters, in particular, face an identity conflict in their ideological history.

Text created on a typewriter isn't just different in presentation. Studies show a surprising relation between typing and memory as well as writing and learning.

Whether intended as a work device or an aesthetic statement, preaching a specific typewriter gets tricky. To better understand this relationship one should consider the reason, not the need for purchasing a typewriter.

Qualities of IBM Typewriters

Unless you intend to purchase a typewriter as nothing more than an accent piece, you want it to perform specific tasks and to perform them well.

Ideally, these tasks will need to be done in a timely manner with a degree of accuracy.

That said, any task that can be accomplished can be done with some flair. Hence the growing popularity of typewriters as romanticized treasures.

Look for and understand these seven qualities and you will wield your typewriter like a Japanese blade, a tool that also serves as art.

1. Mistakes Were Made

The switch from mechanical to electric or semi-automatic typewriters brought multiple innovations. The vast majority of which centered around avoiding and correcting mistakes.

A typewriter needs to work more like a pencil than a pen. The words put down, at least for a time, need to be removable. The further back a correction can be made without compromises or paper movement, the better.

Correction tape works well for a single copy, but display versions offer the most security when working with carbon copy forms.

You also want to find a typewriter that provides clear corrections, not overkill. Some 'undo' features wipe entire words where a few letters suffice.

2. Remember the Times

Aiding in the battle to avoid mistakes is memory. Memory features on an IBM typewriter encompass both words typed up to a maximum of several lines or entire form categories.

Find a machine that provides the level of memory you need. Much like a car, you never want to buy a performance you will never use.

Memory features make automation of some forms even easier. Why remember the location of a field when the machine can also repeat selective information, such as addresses, over and over?

Memory features prevent errors and save time.

3. A Well Not Dry

No typewriter does any kind of work without ink. In this case, ink ribbons or carbon ribbons.

Buying a system with irregular fittings means a lack of typewriter supplies. A lack of supplies means ending up with a device that makes a lot of precise noises but outputs nothing.

Keep in mind that correction tapes also fit specific systems.

Ink ribbons and carbon ribbons need to be easy to install and swap out. For security purposes, they work best when also safe to destroy without specialized processes.

4. Troubles? Only a Few

Even the best machines break down from time to time. Sometimes these intervals require nothing more than a tune-up. Other times parts need replacing.

Finding a model with plenty of available parts ensures you have a device that lasts for now and into the future.

Look for durability and time-tested performance. Most typewriters exist as refurbished or factory-reclaimed units. Knowing that you can find reliable maintenance helps a lot.

5. Lining Up a Strike

Getting the words on a page is only so difficult when that page is blank.

Complicated forms, with many fields and precise locations for specific typed info, become something else.

A good IMB typewriter will provide more than one way to line up your text. This can include guides along the center carriage, the sides, or indicators within the roller edges.

It is important that these guides provide easy-to-use and accurate results. Nobody wants to deal with the frustration of constant tweaks to alignment when trying to get through a workflow.

6. A Font By Any Other Name

Changeable typefaces get overlooked more easily than any other feature of typewriters. Computers have made decisions about text spacing and appearance which they have also done to photographic evidence.

We no longer give any thought to the presentation at the outset, content to change it to fit both our needs and the page.

IBM typewriter parts include changeable wheels and balls that bring classic fonts with them. Don't settle for a system with Times New Roman or Courier as a default when so many other professional, and unique, options still exist.

Consider also the paperweight you will be using. Not all strikes are created equal. Keeping the balance of keys, ink, and paper will ensure a clear final product.

7. A Carriage Devoid of Pumpkins

No amount of line guides, correction tape, and well-oiled keys matters if the carriage doesn't keep up.

A carriage needs to return at a set point without wiggling the paper loose. Poor carriages destroy more documents by infecting the system with creep and jitter which can discourage thought flow and lead to writer's block.

A good carriage provides a tight and clear return. The lines don't skip or come out of alignment. The action remains smooth over thousands of lines and comes back for more.

When working with a display model, where text can be saved and reviewed before 'printing' occurs, this is even more important. The percussion of human typing creates a different set of challenges than an automated process.

Click-Clack, Ding!

The pursuit of a fine writing device is not unlike the search for a favorite restaurant. It is more about how few things get done wrong than right. Solid IBM typewriters offer a lack of hassle as much as a dedicated workflow.

For such a purpose, consider our line of IBM offerings.