Described by Nick Tauriainen as an anomaly in Part 2 of his Olympia SM Series, 1964-1980s, the Olympia Colortip-S is the typewriter I bought twice, as mentioned in a previous post.
But what appear, on first glance, to be two of a kind, are actually two very different typewriters.
As Nick points out, referring to the SM8/SM9:
“In 1969, a similar but completely new body shell was introduced.”
In all photos, or pairings of photos, a 1968 Colortip-S is shown Left, and a 1970 Colortip-S is shown Right …
Apart from a difference in body shape, the other notable difference between these two is the presence, or absence, of a key blocking mechanism that distinguishes the Olympia Colortip-S from “ordinary” SM9 typewriters.
As we can see, the 1968 Colortip-S (left, rectangular feet) is equipped with a blocking mechanism, whereas the 1970 Colortip-S (right, rounded feet) isn’t.
The blocking mechanism can be engaged when learning to type. A lever, which runs underneath and up both sides of the typewriter, has 3 positions:
- Delete the programming (clear the keys that are selected as free and lock all keys) – simply push the lever all the way back
- Programming (selecting the keys that are free) – pull the lever towards you and into the middle position (it will click into position) then press the keys that you want to be free.
- Writing (typing with the free keys) – pull the lever all the way towards you …
Colortip was the name given to the typing course book that came with coloured stickers that could be applied to the keyboard. I don’t have any of the coloured stickers or the course book, but you can use the blocking mechanism with any set of touch-typing exercises.
Of the two typewriters, the 1970 Colortip-S has by far the better typing action. It’s a joy to type on, and I wonder if the lack of a blocking mechanism has a lot to do with it, or whether the later SM9 is simply the better typewriter?
Or it could just be that the mechanism of the 1970 Colortip-S is cleaner.
Still, no matter how hard I scrub the keytops on the ’68, the keytops on the ’70 will always be whiter and brighter …
As Nick T also pointed out, there’s a difference in how (and where) the type adjustment is set on these typewriters …
The 1968 Colortip-S has a type adjustment lever to the left of the keyboard (above left). You can also see the Tab keys are built into the spacebar.
The 1970 Colortip-S has a type adjustment lever underneath the ribbon cover (above right). Tabs are set using a lever to the left of the keyboard (below right).
What gives my 1970 Colortip-S a further edge over the ’68, is its wonderfully large typeface …
On the downside, the 1970 Colortip-S has a missing margin scale (that may change) and a chunk bitten out of its Total tab clearance lever (that may also change if the one on the ’68 is easy to remove).
The ’70 also has a dent on the right-lower-rear of the machine, but that’s compensated for by an attractive Olympia badge, which is either missing or never existed on the ’68.
There’s also a slight difference in the lettering of the logos on the front of the ribbon cover …
Note also how the ribbon cover on the ’70 Colortip-S opens wider than it does on the ’68.