Monday, September 9, 2013

Typewriter Spotting

As my wife and I work our way through our addiction to Mad Men I'm wondering if others in the typosphere have recognized what a fine venue the series, set in the 1960's, is for typewriter spotting. A description I've heard of the series as "relentlessly nostalgic" is right on. The office of the 1960's Madison Avenue advertising agency is of course filled with IBM Selectric I's, the "golf ball" typewriter. Quick shadowy glimpses of other machines create an identification challenge. But Don Draper's personal typewriter, identical to my beloved high school machine, was easy.

Poor Don Draper. Occasionally deeply empathetic in his relationships with women, he can also be crudely clueless. Here he is trying to compose a note of apology to his secretary, whom he has managed to cause to leave the office in tears.
The solid and smoothly functioning late 1950's Olympia SM3 is no help. His secretary has developed an adoration for him;
they both realize it is best she seek another position. But when she asks him to write her a letter of recommendation,
hoping he might cast a few crumbs of recognition and appreciation her way, he tells her to write one up herself, saying
whatever she likes and he'll sign it. He has no idea why she responds by hurling a desk ornament at him.
He's barely begun the second sentence of his letter of apology, and already he's talking about himself. He's clueless,
but the SM3 is a great typewriter.


  1. "An Olympia! Looks like a SM 2 or 3", I exclaimed to my wife a couple of years ago when I saw Don Draper sit down to type. I knew then that I had it bad as far as typewriters are concerned.
    Some nice machines to be glimpsed in "Mad Men".
    And Draper is a heel, to be sure. My wife can't stand him, but I always argue that he's the best of a bad bunch.

  2. I never saw Mad Men, but I may need to find it. That is a nice looking Olympia. I just finished an SM-4 a few weeks ago. They are nice typewriters.

  3. I've heard so many good things about Mad Men. And Breaking Bad. And several other shows. But I don't have much spare time for TV watching, and the little I do have gets spent on Downton Abbey. Sure, it's sorta overly dramatic, chick fare. But for an Anglophile like me with a fascination with old cars and typewriters, it fits the bill. There have been a few typewriters that have made appearances in Downton.

    1. DVD boxed-sets are your friend, Peter. Pricey when first released, but if you wait a while, the prices come down to more realistic levels. And the beauty of them is that you can watch them at your leisure. And if you too like all things English, check out "The Hour", set in a British "60 Minutes"-style news program in the late 1950s. Sadly, it only lasted two (brilliant) seasons.

    2. We're watching "Mad Men" via Netflix, where it is available on demand. So addicted are we that we carry our dinner trays to the couch in the living room for an episode per evening. I see that Sixty two episodes of "Breaking Bad" are also available on demand, and even "The Hour" (thanks for the head's up on that one) is available via mailed Netflix discs.

  4. Noticed it as soon as I saw it. Also, if you look to your second picture, you can clearly see a tab 'clear' key to the left of the space bar. That's an SM4. Nice!