Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dalton Adding Machine mechanism and operation

Pictures of the digital mechanical adding machine.

The machine now viewed from the front, operator view with the large lever at the right. After entering a number, pulling the lever all the way forward enters it into the machine and records it on the paper. The printing mechanism is of the rising segments type, as would I think be fairly common in cash registers and similar machines.

The insides of the machine viewed from the right-hand side. The body panels at the sides come off by sliding forward to unlock. The rear panel comes off also by sliding. This gives access to the main parts of the mechanism. The part that looks like a carriage (it actually is a carriage) surrounded by a frame that takes centre stage in the picture is the number buffer that records the digits as they are entered. When new the mechanism would have been very striking, all shiny and polished with a circular swirl pattern.

As digits are entered, the buffer carriage indexes towards the left, to be ready to take another digit in the next decimal position. Here the carriage is moved all the way to the left, the buffer is full.

The serial number NO201609 is on the frame below the lever spindle. From what I've been able to find on the internet, this serial number is towards the end of the range for these machines making this a machine from about 1926.

As the lever needs to be pulled with some zest and force to operate the mechanism, it is quite long and has a large spring and/or dampener as well. This buffer (the large diagonal tube) almost fits inside the machine, needing a cut-out in the top covering. The totals register is toward the top of the machine, almost visible behind the tube.

When entering a number on the keyboard, there is a display that shows how many digits were entered. Not the number that was entered, but the number of positions. This is by dots, behind a transparent window (now less transparent than it was when new).

Here with 4 digits entered (e.g. 24.95 - the machine assumes a decimal currency format).

Here with a full buffer, 8 digits entered.

And again with an empty buffer, no digits. The buffer is emptied when entering the number by pulling the lever. It can also be emptied by pressing the large 'correction' key, this slides the buffer all the way back to the right and clears all digits. (The black spot shown at the left in the window is corrosion or dirt, not one of the dots.)

The keys are labeled with the numbers in black, when entering a number to subtract the complement numbers need to be entered. These are labeled in red on the keys. Press down the subtract key to do subtract the number from the total.

The keys on the front panel of the machine set the machine for doing a total or a sub-total. The sub total does not clear the result buffer when entering the next number, so you can keep adding numbers. One thing that takes a while to figure out with this machine, is that it needs one extra pull of the lever before it is ready to do a total. This adds of course an extra line on the paper (extra paper feed) and I think it is needed to clear and align the mechanism for the printing of the total that is kept in the sum register. Having done one 'enter' without any digits entered, the totals keys are unblocked and can be pressed down. The next pull of the lever prints the calculated total on the paper, the digits are printed with an asterisk behind it to indicate it is a sum.

The release key is the 'undo' of selecting to do a total.

The multiply on the keyboard is a bit of a misnomer, this simply allows for multiple additions. Keep count and pull the lever repeatedly. Pressing down this key prevents the input buffer and the sum-register from being cleared after an addition.

The simple printing mechanism has a key that disables the printing. The printing is actually the only way to read the calculated totals, so that is a bit of an odd option.

The printer has 9 segments that slide upwards to select the correct digit. The right-most does not print digits, but the extra symbol to indicate it is a total or sub-total. It really needs a fresh ribbon, but faintly it shows the sum of 25.92 and 6.10 to be 32.02.

Probably there's an operating instructions booklet for this machine out there on the internet somewhere, but haven't found any yet. Actually the service and repair manual for this machine should be an order of magnitude more complex and interesting. For now, just hope nothing breaks.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Digital machinery

The inside of the Dalton Adding Machine looks slightly better than the outside. Only slightly.

On the plus side and impressively - it still fully functions. No stuck keys or stubborn carry, the printing unit still works fine even. Doubly impressive because it is a very complex mechanism and an early piece of digital information technology. It has a worrying amount of springs to keep it all working. Compared to this machine, a typewriter is simplicity itself.

The drawings of a couple of patents for the machine really illustrate the complexity inside of these digital machines. These pictures also are much easier to view than the machine itself. (I'm not going to dare to dismantle the mechanism from its frame!)

A top and rearview of the machine from this same US patent publication 517,383 are equally dazzling.

Not that is obvious at first glance at the drawings, but it is a rocking-segment adding machine with a mechanism to enable 10-key entry. This '10-key' keyboard means the machine does not have 10 keys for every digit position, but actually does move the entered number up when adding a digit. At every adding (pull of the lever), the number entered in the buffer is added to the accumulator register. All done by the rocking segment gears with proper carry and correct.

The 10-key entry also means it has a backspace key. A backspace key that actually does erase! Pressing backspace deletes the last digit from memory (the buffer) and moves all previously entered digits one position to the right again.

Several more patents were sought and published for the Dalton machine. Some pictures from another, later publication show the outline of the machine filled with the mechanics.

Just hoping nothing will snap in there; this would be a repair job that is way beyond adjusting a carriage :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Keys to Electri-conomy

Promotional film by Remington Rand.   (Came across it on the Archive, hadn't seen it before there.)

A short (~25 mins) movie with lots of period office scenes, I'm guessing it is from around 1950. Also lots of typewriters of course with the machines being used in ernest; there would be of course - the reason of the whole movie is typewriters.

Even though the full 25 minutes of it tried to convince me of the merit of electrics, I still quite like the manuals.

But then I'm not needing them to do 'production typing'.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Manufactured in Cincinnati

Made around 1926 I estimate. Serial number NO201609. Looks like it's been in a battle (and came out badly), but it still works fine! Have now had it 10 years or so, a gift from my in-laws (they know me :)

Scratches to the logo probably from an old cleaning attempt of the lettering...

Much of the original woodgrain finish now blends with the brown of surface rust. Nevertheless the mechanism is still oiled well, all springs still attached and working magnificently.

The adding machine adds, subtracts and prints just as it was designed to do.

(The number of ads for adding machine repair men in newspapers of the time make me fear for the mechanism to go wrong. Touching wood.) 

Monday, November 11, 2013

The rise and decline

The rise and decline of the typewriter that is. 

After its gradual invention in the latter half of the 19th century the typewriter as a device equally gradually enters the consciousness of society. By the turn of the century already it is a well-known term and it has achieved a steady presence by 1920. (The 19th century data may be under-reported, being diluted by type-writer and other variations.)

After about 1985 the typewriter rapidly fades from view again, being superseded by the computer as a tool to create printed matter.

The graph that shows the typewriter's steady presence over much of the 20th century is from Google's n-gram viewer. This is a great example of a new tool made possible only by the advances in information processing and storage technology. As a result of the Google project to scan books, a very large body of text from books from several languages over several decades is now available as searchable, digital text. The n-gram tool is introduced and explained in this TED talk, highly recommended if you have twenty minutes or so to spare.

Using this n-gram tool on the English body of text from 1870 to 2000 gives some more information also on e.g. the emergence of the term 'portable typewriter'. The graph shows the portable entering later, matching perhaps the introduction of the first successful model with the Corona around 1912. The odd dip in the mid twenties is also present in the 'typewriter' n-gram, unclear what (if anything) this signifies. This might be a skew in the corpus subject matter; perhaps more novels and fewer magazines and technical publications. (The skew does not show in some other 'technical' terms though.)

Typewriter related terms, such as 'backspace' and 'shift key' begin showing up around the same time that the typewriter becomes mainstream. The prevalence of these terms is probably too low for variations over the decades to have any significant meaning. One pattern that however does stand out is that both terms really gain significance after about 1985. Whilst these terms were (probably) created from the invention of the typewriter, these really take off from their meaning in the realm of computers.

The n-gram for the word 'computer' matches this. Having been a niche term, the computer becomes gradually better known from about 1950 on and steadily rises in the public consciousness. The computer really becomes mainstream and a household word from about 1980. Around that time the computer is not only for (large) companies anymore, but becomes a household tool that can also be used to create printed matter. I think the n-gram probably reflects that. (Though a bias in scanned material could seriously skew here; e.g. including Dr Dobbs instead of a general interest magazine would have an impact.)

The computer is of course more than a tool to create printed texts. It is a ubiquitous tool for a wide range of information tasks. As such it is understandable that the computer has a much higher share of the body of text and share of the public consciousness. The typewriter as a term hovers around the 0.0003 percent mark, the computer seems to level off at a full 0.01 percent!

Fitting then that it is the computer that make such graphs about typewriters possible.

One more thing noticeable about the n-gram for the typewriter is that even in 2000 it still has not dropped entirely out of the public mind. The later data may be slightly less reliable, but might the graph suggest a slowing of the drop? A hint of an upward trend in the typewriter?


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Better than good is

Fine as a watch mechanism
Solid as a rock
Better than is good

Picked up from the local Ebay for a small payment and a 5 minute bike ride. A blotter of thick paper printed with the Underwood advertisement on the front. From the style of the graphic and the typeface I guess this is almost a century old.

On the scan those rays show as a greenish-brown, but that is actually printed in gold metallic ink. With the now faded orange and the deep red that would have been quite striking when new. Also fairly expensive to print I think. But at Hfl 325 the machine is not cheap either. It is hard to translate such amounts to modern context, but I guess this would today be in the range of the price of a car.

The advertisement text extolls the virtue of the machine; that it is very good. (Debatable if being better than good is a good thing, but we'll let that pass :)  It does not have a differentiating feature or other unique selling point compared to other typewriters, it just claims superiority in being a typewriter.

It is the star, as it is in this radiant graphic...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Touch typing practice without a typewriter

Economizing - get up to proper typing-speed before using a machine proper. A low cost way to get practice on a keyboard, from a late 30-ies article in a magazine. Forgot to write down which when I snapped the snippet, probably Popular Science. I'd stored this a while back, now finally getting round to posting after being triggered by a recent post by Mark Adams about the Tuch-Rite method.

The image of the machine is definitely suggesting a particular brand/type of machine. No mention of it in the caption, but suggests this might be from or sponsored by this particular manufacturer.

Actually it is a rather fitting image, this practice board would definitely be noiseless.

Digging around a bit more (the internet is an amazing source of trivia), first ran across an advert from 1951 for the courses of ICS, with a special caption for the Tuch-Rite method to learn touch-typing in just one day. The 'new method' still showing a noiseless picture on it's patented practice keyboard. At $25, less low-cost than I had expected! (Though in a '58 classified it is offered at $4.95 by the Tuch-Rite company of Philadelphia and in a '41 ad even for $2 (instruction book included).)

This contains the information that the unique keyboard is patented; and indeed it is. Already published in 1938 is US patent number 2,141,747 for an "Educational appliance", invented by Philip S. Gross. The publication date of the patent fits with the first article from the late 30-ies, it would have been publicized around then.

Turns out there was a book made of this method, authored by Irene A. White and Philips S. Gross published in 1953 called "Tuch-Rite Methods". Additionally the method was sold as a record with the patented keyboard included to practice with. Actually it is already being advertised with a record to listen/type/learn in 1947.

There is then also at long last a hint of a link with Remington, as some Remington branded Tuch-Rite courses (records) show up for sale on auction sites. Advertisements from the early 60-ies indeed show the Tuch-Rite course being bundled free with the purchase of a new portable.

Odd in a way, with the teaching method choosing the Remington Noiseless image at launch (not the most generic image they could have used). Add to that the odd spelling of 'rite' and compounding it with 'tuch'; was Remington in any way involved at the time? Were they inspired by this zippy new spelling by Mr Gross c.s. when naming their 'riter' machines?

Later records however show only the Tuch-Rite branding and an updated, more modern typewriter image being used (On the table a large Royal?).

Even though there isn't a lot of recent, modern information on this cardboard keyboard to learn touch-typing, there seems to be still a "Tuch-Rite Methods Inc" company in PA; listed as active since 1952.

Distracting, this internet...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Changing case

Now that I'd got the gramophone pretty much working, I set out to get some period records to go with it. With one set that I bought came a small record carrying case for 10" records.

Like many cases of the 30-ies it is made of thick cardboard covered with 'rexine' or 'leatherette'. The fittings look quite good in the picture, but in reality are rather corroded. The picture above shows the little case after receiving a first 'typewriter case treatment'. Useful skills are gotten from tinkering with typewriters, these can be applied across categories :)

Many such cases I guess were sold for storing your records. This one was however sold as packaging of a language course. The Linguaphone company sold record-based language courses in such carrying cases - in this case an English course in two cases even (that is a lot of records!). The language course records of this one were probably lost and destroyed decades ago - these sets do regularly show up on the local auction site complete though. Not rare at all. (The Linguaphone company also sold their own brand of gramophone - advertised as ideal for clear reproduction of the spoken word as well as for music. Company still extant actually.)

Not being rare, I had no qualms in replacing the now-useless index sheet on the inside of the lid with a generic index sheet. In the 'general purpose' carrying cases I've seen, the inside of the lid has such sheets with varying amounts of ornamentation. This allowed for writing in an index to the records in the case.

The new blank index sheet tries to stay with the style of the original, using the little stars as random decoration and of course using a Gill Sans typeface. So now a re-purposed carrying case for some of the new 10" records:

(After taking the picture I spotted the glue had let go in some spots, since fixed.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Another case

Another little black carrying case.

New acquisition.
Not a typewriter.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

A next step

When I saw them for the first time in Mr Polt's post, I was surprised. These were new to me.

Just now I spotted one overhere as well. When doing a casual browse on the local auction site with the usual keywords this 'typewriter antique miniature' came up.

Looking at the keyboard; the progressive degradation as predicted seems to be indeed happening. A next step in the process?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Supplies still available

The tins arrived by mail. The padded envelope with a confusingly colorful assortment of stamps; some are 1990-ies, but the red stamps are Queen Juliana stamps from the seventies at the latest. Were the needle tins posted through some kind of timewarp? Is there a wormhole to supplies for old stuff? A post by Spider explained and resolved this little mystery :)

The tin with paper inlay. Echoes of the 30-ies when there would be e.g. an instruction to use only this brand of needles and only once!

(Now to play!)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Typewriters are tiny

Typewriters are tiny. Really very modest toys to tinker with.

And in these wired times also the fĂȘte has its own webpage: Has some pictures (check out the set 'optocht', the top-left set).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fixing the governor

As a gramophone owner you were expected to regularly take the thing apart and oil it. Or maybe expected to take it up to your gramophone shop and have it serviced. The instruction leaflet that came with such machines does include the steps to take out the motor-board ("grasp edge of horn by left hand, grasp winding key by right hand and lift out motor board").

Once you have the motor board out, you can see the lubrication chart that is glued to the bottom of the case. ("oil according to greasing chart to be found below motor").

Now there's a thought for typewriters. The service chart could be in the lid or cover and right there when the mechanism is opened up. (Maybe some machines did have that, I do not know...)

Because the turntable did not keep a stable speed and make a rather loud chugging noise, the friction pad in the governor was the first suspect. If that has gone 'solid', there would not be a large stable rpm range and any un-evenness would give a chugging sound like a steam locomotive at speed.

With an additional four screws loosened, the motor indeed gently drops out of the board. The motor is heavy, most of the weight of the whole gramophone is the motor. The plates and pillars are dimensioned generously, then again it does need to safely contain a strong spring with a lot of energy in it.

The little friction pad had indeed taken the consistency of a small stone. Hard like a little rock. After first trying to soften it up and re-oil it, it was decided to replace it. Gently prying open the clamps holding the leather the 'stone' dropped out. Stacking two small pads cut to size (old leather belt), these were clamped tight again in the friction pad holder and then provided with several generous doses of machine oil. This made the new pad soaked and fit for service.

Putting the machine together to try, it now runs at a stable speed. The pitch regulator now actually governs the speed where first it was more of a switch from 'stop' to 'as fast as you can'. The chugging sound was also mostly gone. As the new leather pad settles in, this is gradually becoming less.

Also had to oil and work the sliding bush of the governor with the friction disc. It moves now, but a bit sluggish. This makes it slow to reach stable speed but otherwise has no ill effect.

Now to fine-tune and re-adjust the pitch regulator, perhaps to print a strobe disc.

Like the typewriters also very mechanical, but definitely on a different scale. Different both in size of the components and in the complexity of the mechanisms.

An enjoyable excursion :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New acquisition, analog machine

It is a black leatherette (rexine) case, but not a typewriter. It is analog equipment, arguably more analog than a typewriter even.

Here some quick pictures of the new purchase:

When taking off the turntable - not clean:

The light in the pictures is already low (was late); given the the somewhat dusty and grimy state of the machine that is not a bad thing perhaps. On the plus side the machine is complete and the chrome plating seems fine.

It's a very late HMV model 102 gramophone, the date code on the typeplate shows this was made in 1953. This is not a type of machine I'd associate with the fifties, but in Britain these were still being made and sold alongside electric pick-up models. The 102 model was introduced in 1931 by HMV and made right up to 1960 with only minor changes, making it indeed more a thirties machine than a fifties product. This is a late evolution of the type with the flush deck and a 5B soundbox, this H model was introduced in March 1953.

Similar to typewriters there is a lot of online activity on gramophones. Whilst not with the sophistication and completeness of a typewriterdatabase, the various forums (forii?) and websites quickly gave the information needed to identify and date the machine.

A very helpful thread on The Talking Machine Forum and very informative posting on how to take it apart by an HMV102 owner in Singapore gave me the confidence to go ahead and buy this one and now dive in to fix it. (The autobrake doesn't work and the speed is very sensitive; race or stop and no middle ground.)

The empty wooden box with the motor board with mechanism taken out.

The chalk markings and the stamp make it clear this is an H model (if the typeplate itself was not convincing enough).

Fixing this one :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

This is off-topic

But what is definitely a topic in the Typosphere is giving puzzling glimpse images of new machines. Can the make and type be determined from seeing a detail part of the item?

Another purchase was made of a black leatherette covered case. The case measures about 30 x 17 x 41 cm. (Hint in the title.)

More anon, busy cleaning and repairing the mechanism.

Joy :-)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Video sightings

A music video got pointed out to me today by Dutch artist Caro Emerald of her song Liquid Lunch.  Hm, yes.   It features a typewriter too.

Quite a clever video and an enjoyable song. Actually it features a whole slew of mid 20th century objects. It is positively filled with analog technology. And a Martini.

This reminded me that the video of This Too Shall Pass by OK Go also included a machine incorporated in their Heath Robinsonian / Rube Goldberg contraption.

Amazingly and I'm sure much to the relief of the Typosphere, the typewriter survives its task in the whole setup :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Alarm (iconic)

This actually is an icon, for a Microsoft Office notification tool that gives you an alert (alarm?) that there is some upcoming event. The iconic image is an alarmclock, probably clearly recognizable by most people as an alarm clock.

It is also probable that most people viewing that icon on a screen do not have such an alarm clock on their bedside table. Many may never had one. Even though it has been superseded by alarmclock radios or other electronic devices, the essentially obsolete alarmclock is still iconic for 'alarm: something to be done!'.

Mind you; it is really an alarm. The bells are very sudden and very loud. Especially in the morning when not quite awake this could be almost classified as a health hazard. Not for anybody with a weak heart.

Iconic though :)