How to define portable or personal electronic typewriters? Personal electronic typewriter for home or small office use. These low-end machines will have a typing speed anywhere between 10 and 14 characters per second, and a print quality legible on the original sheet plus 2 copies.
There is some overlap between the portable and compact categories and consumables may be interchangeable between the two. Paper widths vary between 305 mm (12 inches) and 343 mm (13.5 inches). Writing widths vary between 229 mm (9 inches) and 297 mm (11.69 inches). Weight varies between 4-7 kg.
In the 1980s, it was said that every fifth Brother employee was in research and development, a reflection of the company-wide emphasis on user-oriented product innovation. It’s hardly surprising then, that Brother produced at least nine different series of daisy wheel electronic typewriter in the portable category alone.
M Series 1982-1983
M-series (M8300/Correctronic 8300 and M9300/Executron 9300) daisy wheel electronic typewriters, albeit with a mechanical carriage escapement. In terms of their design, they can be seen as an extension of the Super 7300, 7500, 7800, Correct-O-Ball family.
AX Series: JP-12x 1985-1989
Initially made in Japan circa 1985, then in the UK, then Korea and Taiwan (1988-1989), these e.t.s may not be the fastest or the quietest electronic portables Brother ever produced, but they’re fast enough, quiet enough, and have a good build quality.
A pitched profile, with the shorter slope running towards the back of the typewriter, is a characteristic of this series:
Model numbers include (but may not be limited to) AX-10, 12, 12M, 20, 30
An unusual model prefix in the USA is EM:
- EM-31 (USA variant of the AX-30)
- EM-30 (USA variant of the AX-20)
Unusual model/name variants are the Correctronic 140, the Student-Riter II (USA), and the SX-14 (Made in Korea).
Here’s a “Jubilee” model AX-20 released in Germany:
Looking at the rear of these ETs, there’s a power cord compartment to the left of a vent upper right, a manufacturer badge lower right, and feet/strips left and right:
The AX-20 is triple pitch rather than dual pitch, as is the AX-30 which also has a 20 character LCD screen.
AX Series 12-xx 1986-1988?
In the USA, a style update on the original AX (JP 12x) series appears to have been released around June 1986. These typewriters have a flatter (single-pitch) profile, with a one-piece clip-on lid rather than a snap-on keyboard cover.
This styling is reminiscent of CE Series (JP-11x) portables (See NEXT). A good example of the body shape is this Compactronic 310 (USA):
Platen knobs are narrower:
The layout of the backs of these typewriters closely resemble those of the original AX (JP-12x) series:
One obvious difference is the back of the clip-on lid. These ETs appear to be wider than the original AX series, having straight sides, rather sides which incline inwards towards the top.
Model numbers include (but may not be limited to) the AX-15, 15M, 20, 33, Compactronic 300, 300M, 310, 350 (triple pitch).
CE Series JP-11x 1983-1986?
A distinguishing (and not very nice) feature of this series is a one-piece ribbon cover, which also covers a power cord compartment that sits behind the platen:
Looking at the back of the typewriter, the manufacturer badge is on the left, and a narrow vent runs along the bottom of the typewriter, below the badge:
Model names and numbers include (but may not be limited to) CE-25, 30, 35, Correctronic 35, Compactronic CE-222, 333, Student-Riter XL1, Pro-Riter XL II (USA), Electra 25 (Japan)
The “Electra 25”, listed in Japan, is the same typewriter as the CE-25 and is badged as “JP16-251”.
Note that the CE-35 is the last in this “compact portable” series. The CE-40 is different and sits at the low end of the CE (JP-16x) “compact as in semi-professional” series (not covered in this post).
AX Series: JP-18 1987-1990
Of all the different series of Brother electronic portables, this series seems to be the most common. In the USA and Europe, model names and numbers include (but may not be limited to) AX-22, 24, 26, 28.
The AX-28 seems to be the top of the range model, with an 80 character x 2 line display – advertised in March 1989 in the USA.
In Europe (possibly USA but less commonly), model names and numbers include (but may not be limited to) AX-15, 30, 35, 40, 45. The AX-45 seems to be top of the range.
Unusual model/name variants in the USA include the Correctronic 145, Correctronic 320 AKA HQ-220, and the Correctronic 340.
A “Wordshot II”, listed in Japan, belongs to this series and is badged as “JP16-V10”.
Looking at the back of these typewriters, a generous cord compartment is towards the right (almost central) and overlaps onto the top edge of the typewriter, as shown clearly below. There is a narrow vent top left, and a vent along the bottom, with the manufacturer badge bottom right. There are angular feet/strips left and right:
It’s interesting to note that these are the last Brother portable ETs to have dual platen knobs.
The left-hand platen knob on these ETs has an inner platen release button, as shown here:
There are two release tabs at the top of the keyboard cover, left and right, with latches at the front that grip the underside of the typewriter:
In the USA, later models in this series, SX-16 and SX-23, have a “light-on-dark keyboard” (see below). This design characteristic seems to have carried over to later (single platen knob) WP-prefixed word processors.
AX/GX Alpha (α) 1990 – 1994?
Note the “light-on-dark keyboard”:
The keyboard cover hooks into two slots above the keyboard, while two latches at the front grip the underside of the typewriter. (The design of the keyboard cover on the AX/GX Betas is an improvement. See NEXT.)
Wordshot III (Japanese listing (above and below)
A distinguishing feature of this series is an exposed power cord holder rather than an enclosed power cord compartment (as seen above).
Note how the “blocky” and “ribbed” profile of these ETs is very different to the smooth “zig-zag” profile of the “AX/GX Betas” (SEE NEXT).
The GX- prefix was used predominantly in the USA and these ETs were marketed as the “Correctronic” series. Model names and numbers include (but may not be limited to) GX-6000, 7000, 7500, 8000, 8500, 9000. These ETs were manufactured in the USA and the UK and also Japan, and advertised between August 1990 and June 1993. Many were advertised circa 1990 with “Worldwide sponsor of the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games” stickers.
In Europe, the AX- prefix seems more predominant. Models and numbers include (but may not be limited to) AX-110, 130, 140, 145, 230, 250, 350, 450, 500, 550
Also in this category: A Wordshot III (previously pictured) and a Wordshot-SP, both listed in Japan, are badged as “JP16-U10” and “JP16-U20”, respectively.
AX/GX Beta (-β ) 1992-1994?
These “Betas” are different to the “Alphas” in that they have an enclosed power cord compartment which runs across the back of the machine (rather than an exposed power cord holder).
While I think this is yet another design improvement on the “Alphas”, a minor quibble is fact that there’s nothing to wrap the cord around.
Looking at the rear of the machine, vents are centred along the bottom. The manufacturer badge is to the left of the vents:
This colourful example, above and below, is a limited edition AX-210 “MIDORI”:
The keyboard covers on the AX/GX Betas have a raised bubble over the space bar – also flared tabs at the top of the keyboard cover, left and right, as shown on this AX-600:
Another distinguishing feature of these “Betas” is what I like to call a “zig-zag” profile, which again is very different to the blocky profile of the “Alphas”:
GX-6500, 7500, 8500, 9500 series ETs, seen here in an ad published in the USA on the 14th November 1993, are clearly of the same type:
Again, the AX- prefix seems to predominate in Europe. Manufactured in the USA and the UK, model names and numbers include (but may not be limited to) AX-210, 230, 240, 300, 400, 450, 500, 600
GX and AX prefixed ETs often share the same instruction guide (for example: the GX-7500/AX-400 and the GX-9500/AX-600).
WP Series 1990-1994?
“WP” prefixed word processing ETs seem to have been manufactured alongside the AX/GX “Alphas” and the “AX/GX “Betas”, since they have design characteristics of BOTH. Of those WP-prefixed models without a flip-up display screen, some may even belong to the AX/GX Alpha or Beta series.
Indeed, many of these ETs share the same “light on dark keyboard” as described for the Brother AX/GX “Alphas” manufactured circa 1990:
They also have the same “blocky” Alpha profile:
However, rather than having an exposed cord holder on the rear of the machine, there’s an enclosed cord compartment, with a door that flips up for use as a paper rest. This is a design characteristic of the AX/GX “Betas”:
Advertising for these WP word processing ETs is plentiful in the USA between February 1992 and August 1994.
Model names and numbers are so extensive I’m not even going to go into them (or LW- prefixed word processors manufactured in Europe) in this post.
AX-GX Gamma (γ) 1994 – 2005?
I went with “Gamma” as the name for these portable electronic wedges with the “scalloped” body shape. Again, I’ve seen one example of an instruction guide which is shared between AX and GX prefixed models: AX-600 and GX9500.
I’m not sure whether they’re identical (with a different prefix based on region) or whether they’re lower-spec, higher-spec pairs. It is a fact that some models are faster (12 cps), while others are slower (10 cps).
The profile of the typewriters in this category have what I like to call a “float” (think of the floats on a sea plane). The left-hand platen knob is built into the “float” as shown on this AX-625:
Looking at the rear, the manufacturer badge is on the right. There is a “minimalist” open cord compartment on the left. Since there is no compartment door that flips up to provide a paper guide, the keyboard cover doubles as a paper guide.
Some models have a HAND GRIP on the underside of the machine, rather than a flip-out HANDLE. Whether this is indicative of two separate series, I don’t know. The undersides of these machine are very similar, making you think they might be interchangeable; however, the presence of a handle or a hand grip does not seem to vary for any particular model, in other words, it appears to be either one or the other, and not a mixture of both for the same model.
SCALLOPED WITH A HANDLE
Serial numbers of these ETs, made in the USA (mostly) and the UK, seem to span from 1994 to 2005, but there is some uncertainty in my mind as to whether some are early-to-mid 90s models or early-to-mid 2000s. Model numbers include (but may not be limited to) AX-325, 340, 425, 430, 550, 625
An SX-4000 is dated by serial number to October 1995, and to August 1995 in advertising (USA).
GX- prefixed scalloped models with a HANDLE must exist, but I haven’t sighted them.
SCALLOPED WITH A HAND GRIP
Rather than a flip-out handle, a hand grip is built into the underside of the machine:
Interestingly, in this sub-group (if the presence of a HAND GRIP constitutes a separate group) ETs manufactured in Malaysia begin to appear alongside those made in the USA and the UK.
Again, there is some uncertainty in my mind as to whether some of these ETs are early-to-mid 90s models or early-to-mid 2000s. The appearance of Malaysian-made models suggests they’re the latter. A few (3) of these Malaysian ETs, have an ML (100, 300, 500) prefix – a Wordshot V (listed in Japan and also made in Malaysia) also belongs to this group.
In addition to the Malaysian models already mentioned, model numbers include (but may not be limited to) AX-100, 300, 310, 330, 325, 375, 410, 425 and GX-6500, 6750, 6750SP, 8250, 8500, 8750, 9750
ZX prefixes: ZX-30, 50, 70, 1700, 1900, 3000 are mentioned in various ribbon listings circa 1995 and 1996, but I’ve yet to see one, so I can’t confirm whether or not they’re ETs of the “scalloped” variety.
6 thoughts on “Plugged in with Brother (Portables)”
Ha, thanks Bill, sneak on into your shed and she’ll never know!
One day I may add electrics to my collection. Oh, then Mrs. M would kill me if I bring any typewriter home.
I remember the Brother engineering promotions. The company where I worked prided itself on having more engineers and technicians employed than any other corporation in the world. I wonder who really did. Probably NASA.
Thanks Ted. M8400 being listed somewhere but unsighted? I haven’t come across that model in advertising or elsewhere. AX “Alpha” on the TWDB being the two AX series (JP-12x, JP-18) prior to “Beta”? Cheers. 🙂
Oh, and the M8300/M9300 are electronic. I had one apart and there’s like 3 separate circuit boards (keyboard driver, CPU logic board and printwheel controller. The only mechanical thing in it is the carriage escapement (still has a mechanical spring drum and carriage string, just like the top-o-the line 19th century tech).
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whoops, I am reminded that I owe you a report (which I did actually type up on paper) on Brothers. I can say that the “Alpha” and “Beta” model names are printed in the service manuals as reported on TWDB. Here’s one page of the report I owe ya: JP series, models known and dates from the manuals I have. There’s a second page somewheres, but I couldn’t find it tonight..
Very thorough listing! This should help us identify potential purchases on places like Ebay.
I hope you’re going to do a similar thermal typewriter overview.
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