Olympia Traveller de Luxe S

Olympia Traveller de Luxe S Portable Typewriter

The Traveller de Luxe S is a portable typewriter manufactured by the Olympia Corporation of Germany. It is a mechanical machine where a hammer strikes a cloth ribbon to transfer the impression to paper. The “de Luxe” version, as the manual states, was for the high-end of the market, with luxurious elegant design features compared to other typewriters of that era.

This typewriter became popular because it was small and yet had the same features as a full sized machine. It has wonderful line setting and spacing features that were usually available only on larger full-sized machines. You could have single space, one and a half space, and double space. Double spaced lines are much easier to read, and people usually used this setting when typing their degree thesis.

This machine has a transparent aligning scale with a hole so that an inserted pencil point marks a horizontal line when the carriage slides. It also has a half-space spacebar so you could have the proper space between units and numbers. This is something that even modern computer keyboards do not have today. It even has an accent key, so if you were typing words in a foreign language you could add the acute or grave mark above the letter.

The “S” version of this typewriter had a TAB key, which was my favourite key because you could make a neat column of figures, however even more impressively, you could use it to make a table. Although this function increased the mechanical complexity and component count, the designers still managed to squeeze it in.


QWERTY and AZERTY

Keyboard View

This one has a standard QWERTY keyboard; however, there was also another version for the French market with an AZERTY keyboard. It is quite possible to convert this keyboard, but I would prefer to leave it in its original condition. Perhaps in the future it will be worth more that way. The AZERTY keyboard became the standard on the European continent and used widely in Belgium and Lithuania.

This is a large multi-page article, and in the Servicing section, you can see the inside of this typewriter. Engineers always appreciate the complexity of its clockwork design. It must have taken great skill and ingenuity to make it. Hence, this article is about the engineering design of this machine.

It is a nice bit of German engineering, and with one of these, you can have a letter typed very quickly in the usual German efficiency. I just love old technology and the engineering behind it, and this typewriter just goes to show that nothing can surpass good quality design.

Sensitive Keys

Top Cover

If you remove the top cover, there was a small lever to the right, which adjusted the tension in the keys. I usually had this set fully in the minus direction so that the keys would require the least amount of pressure to type. I even used to clean the hammer compartment on a regular basis with a metal cleaner so that the keys required very little pressure when typing; hence, I could type very fast.

Stealth Feature

The engineers designed the machine to be silent when typing, and provided you placed it somewhere appropriate such as a soft surface, the keys usually made a dull “thud” sound when striking the ribbon. I could type for hours at night without disturbing anyone. These were all the early signs of Peter Vis becoming a publisher!

Review

Back in 1975, most homes did not have a PC. We had to use one of these when writing an official letter and needed to demonstrate professionalism. The last time I used this was in 1993 when I was desperately looking for a job and was typing the cover letters.

As an IT professional and a programmer, I spent 20 years typing with all my fingers on both hands, and have become accustomed to typing on membrane keyboards. Now I understand why people used two index fingers to type, because the keys required much force compared to modern keyboards. When the ink ribbon wears out the owners instinctually hit the keys harder.

Reliability

These typewriters are incredibly reliable, as majority of the components are made of die-cast metal that last almost forever. These machines have been operating longer than their designers intended, and often in much harsher conditions, yet they continue to operate providing the same performance.

They require very little servicing apart from a general clean and lubrication. There are many parts of the world, where this typewriter is still used. It is predominantly a Western attitude to arrogantly throw things away and not understand its true value.

This machine does not require an operating system, anti-virus, or firewall. It will not crash, and you will not need to back up your work! However, the best thing of all, it will not need electricity to operate. You can use it anywhere in the world and not have to think about the charge level of the batteries.

History

Olympia Logo

The Olympia Company has always been one of the best, and the oldest in the typewriter manufacturing industry. All of their post war designs are pleasing to the eye, including this one.

It was the early typewriter designs, including mechanical calculators, which influenced the design and style of their emerging electronic counterparts. This influence was not just a cosmetic one, but also from an engineering level. In modern microprocessors terminology we still use terms such as register, latch, and carriage return. These represent the same functions performed by semiconductor technology.


Applications

Many teachers continue to use these typewriters even today. There are even those very clever ones with an English Literature PhD who can fill out dozens of pages with thousands of words full of grammatical errors…

This leads me to the infinite monkey theorem, which states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard, for an infinite amount of time, will almost surely type something useful, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

This Article Continues...

Olympia Traveller de Luxe S
Olympia Typewriter Features
Olympia Traveller de Luxe S Inside
Olympia Typewriter Ribbon
Olympia Traveller de Luxe Servicing
Olympia Typewriter Installing A New Ribbon 1001FN
Olympia Traveller de Luxe S Font
Traveller de Luxe S Portable
1996 Letter to Akio Morita