Compact Electrics

What is a “compact electric” typewriter? According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary “compact” is defined as:

Adjective: closely set or packed together, dense – having all the necessary components or features neatly fitted into a small space.

By that definition all “portable” electric typewriters qualify as “compact”.  Yet, according to Wilfred A Beeching, in his book Century of the Typewriter, “compact electrics” are …

“… not fully standard machines and not portable, but in between, and are very acceptable to small businesses that feel a need for something larger than a portable, yet do not have sufficient work for a fully electric standard office typewriter.”

Compact electric typewriters are then, according to Beeching, the electric equivalent of a “semi-portable”, in other words medium sized.

Size is relative of course, and what may seem compact to some, may not seem compact to others. Until I read Beeching I had not, for example, thought of these typewriters as “compact” …

Olivetti Praxis 48

Olympia SGE 35


Adler Gabriele 5000

Beeching does refer to “portable electric typewriters” but there aren’t many of them in his book. One that gets a mention is the 1972 (Silver-Seiko made) Royal Apollo 10 …


A “Quality-built Royal Electric portable with office electric keyboard in a truly compact size”.


As Ted Munk pointed out in response to my question “which is the most compact (type bar) electric typewriter?” (see the comments on my Affordable Electronics post) the Apollo 10 is one of the lightest and smallest (and quietest) portable electric typewriters you can find.

This is largely a consequence of the fact that the Apollo 10’s electric motor only has to power the keyboard, since it has no power return and has to be manually returned with a carriage return lever.

The addition of a power-assisted carriage return inevitably means (correct me if I’m wrong) more electrical components and a bigger motor  hence a fatter profile, more noise, and more weight. Not that that was ever going to be a problem for the advertising industry, who like their typewriter models to be slim …


On paper at least, this Facit 1840 shows all the signs of being truly “kompakte” …


The Facit 1840 Compact Electric Typewriter was made in Sweden of Danish design and was designed by Acton Bjørn.


It was first produced in 1973 (the heyday of the portable electric) and came in three body colours: Yellow/Orange, Brown, and Black …


The Facit 1840 Kompakte Electric Typewriter  was also sold as the Addo 841. From this angle it looks flat rather than fat


According to Google translate, this chocolate brown FACIT 1840 (below) is listed on the Japanese Yahoo auction site as a junk machine (it has no power cord and is untested). It’s also described as a military typewriter …


6 thoughts on “Compact Electrics

  1. This was interesting. My recently acquired Smith-Corona Coronet Automatic 12, while a type bar machine, isn’t compact, since it has a large motor that does the Power Return of the carriage. I’m not as attracted to electrics as manuals, but I would be tempted by a small electric with cloth ribbon if it were relatively quiet. Hmm, I must be on the lookout for such a machine. Thanks for the article.


  2. The Olympia Monica is the most compact electric, with a clip-on cover, and a detachable cord which fits inside the top of the cover.

    The Facit you show is so well built, it weighs almost as much as an Olympia SG1, and has a unique four-finger hole array [bowling-ball + 1?] on the underside [as well as rollers at the back] to allow it to be moved without crippling secretaries!


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