Luckily, I’ve never been struck by a train. I have, however, often been struck by the similarity between the train spotter and the typewriter collector. After-all, both have an interest in the movement of carriages, hopefully smooth, plus a fondness for meticulously jotting down numbers.
The train spotter in me “spotted” (online) this advertising sign on a platform at Uedo City train station, Nagano prefecture, Japan¹ …
The manufacture and sale of western-style typewriters
Tokyo. Nagano, America, Europe
Before it extended its tentacles towards Europe and America, Nakajima All (like many of its competitors) began life as a sewing and knitting machine manufacturer:
The printing machinery company Nakajima Seisakausho was established by Nobuyoshi Nakajima in 1923 and was located at Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo. The company merged with the sewing machine company All Lead Mishin Seisakusho in 1933.
Nakajima All Mishin Seizosho began the production of portable typewriters in May, 1965. The first electric typewriter, the M7500, was produced in May, 1971. This was followed by further electric models (M7800, M8800) in 1976 and 1978 respectively.
In 1976 the company renamed itself as Nakajima All Precision Co., Ltd.
1982 marked the production of Nakajima’s first AE 300 series of electronic typewriters.
The production of daisy wheel printers followed in 1983, although this was short-lived. Nakajima and many other manufacturers switched instead to the production of dot matrix printers and other computer peripherals.
In 1988 the company was renamed Nakajima All Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Electronic typewriter production began in the U.S.A. a year later, reaching production levels of 40,000 units a month in March 1989.
You can still buy many of Nakajima’s later AE series models:
This compact “ALL” AX-240 (Made in Japan) electronic typewriter was advertised as “Free to good home – needs new ribbon.”
Unfortunately it needs more than a ribbon. The hammer’s lost its punch and fails to make contact with the ribbon. Apart from that everything seems to work as expected.
I’m not sure what the cause is – a problem with the solenoid that drives the hammer?
It’s a shame because the keyboard has a very nice feel to it.
A dial on the underside of the lid confirms that this is a ’90s machine:
Cable and plug stow away easily in a generous compartment at the back of the machine:
It’s an attractive machine (by wedge standards) although I was slightly disappointed to discover that some AX-240s have an attractive “smoked glass” keyboard cover:
Having said that, a sturdy one piece cover better protects the whole machine:
That stylish-but-fragile-looking platen knob (reminiscent of a Selectric’s) certainly needs protection …
The AX-240 is smaller and lighter than earlier AE series machines, and takes a different ribbon:
I’ve come to realise that the consumables used by an electronic typewriter aren’t necessarily an indicator of the origins of that typewriter.
Olivetti and Brother ribbon cartridges, for example, are used all over the place on non-Olivetti, and non-Brother typewriters.
Johnny-come-lately wedge manufacturers simply engineered their machines to fit whatever consumables they could get their hands on.
It’s interesting to note the typewriter models listed as compatible with this AX-240 ribbon:
Olivetti? Olympia? Adler-Royal? Nakajima OEMs every last one of ’em.² Oh how the mighty are fallen!
Company information from: http://www.nakajima-all.co.jp/engv.files/sub/kigyou_syareki.htm
¹ Typewriter production was transferred from Tokyo to Oaza-Kamigomyo, Sakaki-machi, Hanishina-gun, Nagano Prefecture in August 1968. Nakajima established the Ueda Research Institute in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture in 1988.
² Confusingly, OEMs are not the original manufacturers of the product; they are manufacturers who resell another company’s product under their own name and branding.