Friday, March 31, 2017

Oliver No 5 Visible Print Typewriter

The Oliver No 5 Visible Print Typewriter was one of the first with "visible print." Because of the placement of the type bars, the typist could see the letters as they appeared on the page. Over one million of these typewriters were produced and sold mainly to the home market. Here is a description of the Oliver Typewriter Company from the Wikipedia article:
The Oliver Typewriter Company had begun operating in 1895, with its headquarters on the ninth floor of a building on the corner of Clark and Randolph Street in Chicago. In 1896, manufacturing moved from Iowa to Woodstock, Illinois, when the City of Woodstock donated a vacant factory once used by the Wheeler and Tappan Company on the condition that the Oliver Typewriter Company remain there at least five years. Manufacturing was divided into six departments: type bar, carriage, assembly, tabulators and adjustment, inspection, and an aligning room. The company's headquarters moved to the Oliver Building, now a Chicago landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, when it was completed in 1907. 
Starting in 1899, the company established sales networks by encouraging customers to become local distributors. This method of marketing relied on word of mouth and emphasized sales made directly to neighbors (door-to-door) and, after 1905, sales on credit. In response to increased competition in the late 1910s, however, the company eliminated its network of local salesman and used the resulting savings in commissions to reduce the typewriter's $100 ($1,400 in 2017) price by half. Sales increased and, at its peak, the company's labor force of 875 was producing 375 machines daily.
Some time ago, I was with one of my grandchildren and ran across a photo of a typewriter. On a whim, I ask my grandson if he knew what the machine was. He had no idea and had never seen a typewriter in his life. An interesting experience for someone who learned how to type on a typewriter that was not much different than this one.

1 comment:

  1. My mom had a typewriter when I was growing up (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she still has it somewhere) and typing on it was one of my favorite things. I remember once in my late teens she insisted on pulling it out to type one of my sisters' final drafts, despite the fact that we had had a computer and a printer for several years. I think the typewriter just felt more familiar.