Nakajima’s Element of Surprise

These “bat-eared” wheels were used in (Late Konishiroku-era2) Royal SIGNET portable E.T.s., advertised in the USA as early as October 1987. Models numbers include SIGNET 10, 20, 25, 40, 45, 45T and 70.

Oddly enough, these wheels are also listed as being compatible with NAKAJIMA AX SERIES TYPEWRITERS.

As shown on the back of the box, “SIGNETS” were also sold as the Olivetti CX-440S (below), CX-440 Plus, Hermes 400, Olympia XL-500, 501, 505, 512.

Two models which take the same wheel, not listed on the box, are the Facit T110 and T150 (below).

Styles available: Prestige Pica 10, Prestige Elite 12, Script 12, Mini Gothic 15.

Out comes my Batman-compatible CASIO CW-600 (AKA Nakajima AX-65). Identical keyboard configuration. Does it take the “bat-eared” wheel?

There’s not even room for the drop-in wheel to “drop-in”!

The models listed on the “Made in Switzerland” ribbon box pictured above (found online) point to the existence of two distinct AX series. None of the Nakajima AX series E.T.s I’ve ever come across take a drop-in cassette wheel.

If these wheels were made “for” Nakajima (I don’t believe they were made “by” Nakajima), why didn’t they follow Brother’s lead and adopt a drop-in cartridge wheel as standard?

I may have just answered my own question. Of the two “bat-eared” wheels I own, one came in a plain box with no branding, the other came without a box. Both are marked as “Assembled in Japan”.

It’s worth noting, (Early Konishiroku-era1) Royal ALPHA and BETA 100/200 series portable E.T.s. do not take the same cassette wheel, as shown in this December 1984 ad (the BETA 8100 also shown is a Triumph-Adler machine):

While SIGNETS take a standard AX-series Nakajima ribbon cassette, these E.T.s were advertised as having an “innovative ink cartridge print mechanism”. I wonder if this ties-in with Exxon and Konishiroku having made announcements about “black-and-white, ink-jet products aimed at word-processing markets” (MINI-MICRO SYSTEMS/June 1983). More likely the ribbon makes use of a plastic-based “lift-off” ink?

There is a new development in ink jet printers which has been pioneered by Exxon, the oil people. In this a form of plastic, rather than an ink, is shot out of the jet. Because the plastic is very controllable, these printers will work to 1,000 dots per linear inch, which is very, very high resolution indeed.

My Dumb Friend Arnold, The Right Decision Will Make a Good Impression, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 7th 1988


1 In May 1984, the Japanese camera and copier manufacturer, Konishiroku Photo Industry Co., bought a 34% stake in Royal Business Machines (RBM).

2 On the 29th of January, 1986, Konishiroku took complete control of RBM. RBM became Konica Business Machines (KBM) USA.