Metric Typewriters

I like the less-than-flattering human proportions on this 1973 take on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man …


He’s a lot like me, at least in as much as I still haven’t got my head around the metric system and think of myself as being 6 feet one inches tall and 12 and a half stones in weight.

The introduction of metrication in the early 1970s raised a number of important questions for typewriter users:

  1. Will my Imperial typewriter still work?
  2. Do I need to replace the feet on my typewriter?
  3. How come you can still find typewriters at yard sales?

The answer to that last question is that the United States is the only industrialised country in the world that does not use the metric system as its predominant system of measurement.

This extract from Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents, Revised Edition by Ordway Hilton (CRC Press, 17 Sep 1992 ) illustrates how metrication was one of the factors that could help investigators identify the make and model of a particular typewriter:

“Letterspacing on the great majority of domestic machines has traditionally been 1/12 in. (elite spacing) and 1/10 in. (pica spacing). In Europe corresponding type sizes have been used on machines with various metric spacing.
For example, elite size type has not only used the metric equivalent of 1/12 in. 2.12 mm, but also 2.00, 2.20, 2.23, 2.25 and 2.30 mm. while pica spacing includes 2.50 and 2.60 mm in addition to 2.54 mm, the metric equivalent of 1/10 in.

Thus some different makes of European-made machines with identical type designs can be differentiated by letterspacing, and certain letterspacings have been used by only a small group of manufacturers.”

Which is all very interesting, but really just an excuse to show off my collection of meter marks:

Continental SILENTA 1938 …


IBM 1968 …


 Japy 1966 …


Japy 1971 …



Robotron 1979 …


Torpedo Werke A.G. 1955 …


Adler 1962 …


Olympia 1954 …


Olivetti 1967 …


Remington Rand 1963


Remington Typewriter Company (logo) 1934


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