The Fashionable Type

This typewriter had better be impossible to find in Western Australia. I bought it cheaply on German eBay and had it shipped to the U.K. where I picked it up during a recent visit.

Fortunately, it’s very lightweight and was easily stowed away on the flight home.  Nice looking machine …
On first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that this streamlined plastic wedge was one of Olivetti’s later-generation (Japanese-made or Singapore-made) electronic wedges.

It is, in fact, an end product of a technological alliance first established in 1985 between Robotron and the West German branch of Commodore Business Machines (CBM).

Commodore Fashion Typeline Style 32

Initially, the alliance between Robotron and Commodore was to produce the mechanics and the firmware, respectively, for the Commodore CBM 8028 and CBM 8229 letter quality computer printers (with a West German third-party supplying the electronics.)

It seems the alliance existed, in some form or another, until at least 1994 …

The Commodore Fashion Typeline series of portable electronic typewriters (STYLE 12, STYLE 12 PLUS, and STYLE 32) are, as far as I can tell, re-badged Optima SP-18, SP-20 and SP-24 portable electronic typewriters.

Oddly, the ribbon listings for this series of machine, reveal the presence, under the hood, of an Olivetti Praxis 20 ribbon.

Praxis 20 (above) and a Praxis 20 ribbon (below)

The Praxis 20 was Olivetti’s earliest portable electronic typewriter, indeed the only portable electronic typewriter to be manufactured by Olivetti in Italy.

The Praxis 20 ribbon cartridge was not used on later generation Olivetti Praxis (30, 35, 36, 41, 45D, 100, 200) and ETP (55, 540, 505, 550, 60, 66, 606) portable wedges.

Strange to think (unless Olivetti simply used a Robotron-made ribbon cassette) why it was used on later generation Robotron (Optima and Erika) portable wedges.

No instruction manual, at least not yet. I’ve ordered a German one for a Privileg electronic 1999, which appears to be the same typewriter …

With a bit of luck the Google-translated guide might help me figure out why this typewriter types the wrong characters even when the wheel is, as  far as I can tell,  properly installed.  Was it somehow damaged in transit? I have no idea.

It’s like a latter day Enigma machine. Can you crack the code?

8 thoughts on “The Fashionable Type

  1. Thanks Ted, that was my first thought, but I can’t see a KB/KBII switch inside or out, or figure out what the Code + key combination might be. 😉


  2. That’s one beautiful wedge.
    Looks like you tried “the quick brown fox…” Hope you figure out your character printing problem.


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