Carreras

No, not the Spanish tenor …

… portable electronic typewriters manufactured by (and for) AEG Olympia in the mid 1980s.

Advertising outside Germany is hard to find. Although I did find this Icelandic ad from August 1987:

An attractive ’80s wedge alongside an attractive ’80s hairstyle? What could be nicer?

What would be better is a 1987 Carrera Si. That’s because it’s an upgrade on the original with more memory (Speicher), plus an interface option.

While they may look the same on first glance:

  • First released in May 1985, the original dual pitch, 10 cps, 6.5 kg Carrera has slider switches to the right of the keyboard. (Interestingly, according to the technical specification in the instruction guide, the typing speed is stated as “10 characters/second at 10 pitch”. Whether 12 characters/second at 12 pitch is achievable, is unclear.
  • First released in October 1987, the triple pitch, 12 cps , 7 kg Carrera Si has a row of function keys and LEDs to the left of the keyboard. The metal paper bail on this typewriter also has rollers that the more basic Carrera doesn’t have. Sometimes it’s the small details that make a big difference.

The other notable change is a change in branding: “Olympia” being used prior to 1987 and “AEG Olympia” being used thereafter (the Carrera and the Carrera Si were sold under both brands, however).

On those machines that aren’t a uniform grey-beige (like the Carrera Si pictured above), it’s almost as if Olympia factored yellowing ABS plastic into their design.

Subtly different grades of ABS plastic, each yellowing to a differing degree? Or was there a subtle colour difference to begin with? Probably a bit of both.

Ingeniously, a spring-loaded paper release knob on the right-hand side of the platen, has been designed to match the inset platen knob on the left-hand side of the platen, a knob which you have to depress in order to freely rotate the platen.

The ribbon cover, which looks like its hinged, isn’t hinged, and simply clicks into place. The lid also snaps easily on and off.

Like the IF87 award sticker, commonly seen on these machines, it all points to good design. What lets these typewriters down is the yellowing of the ABS plastic keycaps.

According to Daniel Beardsmore (Deskthority Wiki) the spring-loaded key switches are the rare Marquardt Series 6180. The pale grey legends are laser marked, hence low contrast, but not as cheap and nasty as pad printed legends. See: File:Laser etching vs double-shot (detail).jpg – Deskthority wiki

Later models: The Carrera S/Carrera II/Carrera II WP/Carrera MD/ Carrera MD Deluxe of the early to mid 1990s are all differently styled and made (in Japan, Indonesia and China) by Nakajima.