Smith-Corona XD 6500

Another 5L Revival … This Smith-Corona XD 6500 was sold as “for parts not working”.

I bought it for a next to nothing price in order to get my hands on the instruction guide and the sales literature that came with it.

I was expecting a fritzed machine, but surprise, surprise, once I’d remedied the printwheel that was back to front in the machine, it worked fine.

5L series portables (and smaller 5P series portables which followed) were the last to have a one-piece lid (described in the guide as a “high impact protective cover”) AND a detachable power cord.

On 5L machines, the cord can be stowed on the underside of the lid (at the risk of damaging the LCD screen? I’d rather not risk it).

The lid has a rigid handle with a latch which hooks into two holes on the front lip of the typewriter:

Released in 1986, the XD 6500 is a later 5L model and as such has cylindrical rather than spherical keycaps:

A Keyboard Switch to the right of the keyboard is separate to the main power switch.

Why have a separate switch? If leaving this switch OFF is meant to enable “Printer mode” when the typewriter is connected to a computer, the instruction guide doesn’t mention it.

The Serial (RS232/V.24) port on the rear of this typewriter isn’t specifically mentioned, however the typewriter is described as “Computer compatible R/O”.

An elaborate “double-barrelled” platen knob with an outer variable line spacer is a feature which was inherited from earlier Ultrasonic/Memory Correct models (later low-cost portables have a smaller, simpler ABS plastic knob):

No doubt about it, Smith-Corona (the name was still hyphenated at this stage) e.t s made in the USA prior to and around the time of the 1986 takeover by the Anglo-American investment house, Hanson Trust, are better than the cheaper, smaller, Singaporean and Indonesian-made “Smith Corona” 5A, 5B and 5F portables that followed.

To be fair, Smith Corona was not the only manufacturer to adopt a low-cost production ethos heading into the late 1980s. Such a move was pretty much universal as the cost and size of electronic components reduced and the performance of those components improved – which I guess explains why “old school” e.t.s like the XD 6500 are neither as fast nor as lightweight as later models. They are, however, beautifully designed and engineered.

(The instruction guide claims a maximum speed of 11.5 cps, which is a little optimistic, it feels more like an average of 10.)

End-of-series 5Ls have a flatter, squarer profile (and lid) plus a variable line spacer which is enclosed by the ribbon cover:

Examples include the XD 8000, SD 300 and SD 400 (above and below):

E.t.s worth reviving!