Royal Business Machines

Royal Business Machines (RBM) emerged Pheonix-like from the ashes of the Royal Typewriter Company, as an affiliate of Triumph Adler North America (TANA) in 1979 — a year generally regarded as the year that heralded the dawn of the daisy wheel electronic typewriter, with Exxon and Olivetti leading the way with the release of the Qyx System, and the ET-221, respectively.

RBM’s parent company, the then Volkswagen-owned Triumph-Adler (TA), was not far away from releasing a daisy wheel electronic typewriter of its own, the SE-1005 (1981).

By 1982, TANA/RBM electronic typewriters sales in North America, supplied exclusively from Triumph-Adler in Germany, were over $600 million. It was probably not a coincidence that Japanese-made portable and compact electronic typewriters began to appear on the market six months after Konishiroku Photo Industry Co (the makers of Konica cameras) took a 34% stake in RBM on the 4th of May 1984 and entered into a joint venture with TANA “focussed on product development and marketing”.

Konishiroku had been supplying copiers to RBM on an OEM basis since 1972.

From then on, a mixture of German-made and Japanese-made electronic typewriters were sold under the Royal brand in the USA and Europe. This ended on the 29th of January, 1986, when Konishiroku took complete control of RBM, buying the remaining 66 percent stake owned by TANA.

Royal Business Machines becomes Konica Business Machines (KBM) USA. TANA continued to trade as “TA Royal Typewriters” and “TA Royal Consumer Business Products” — brand names which subsequently came under the ownership of Olivetti following its acquisition of TA Triumph-Adler that same year.

Olivetti’s ownership of the Royal brand lasted for almost two decades. During that time, “Royal” electronic typewriters continued to be sourced from Olivetti in Singapore, from an Olivetti-owned TA Triumph-Adler in Germany, and from Nakajima in Japan. In the late 1990s, Royal TQ-series portables were also sourced from Samsung in Korea.