THE IMPERIAL 66

‘Take a letter Miss Moneypenny’. From the more glamorous desks of Madison Avenue, the more humdrum typing pools of clerical London or the clattering chatter of smoke filled pre-computerised newsrooms, solid, robust and preferably indestructible typewriters were required. A million miles (and pounds) away from portable and built like a transatlantic tanker. Introducing the Imperial 66. Birthplace Leicester. Weighs a ton.

The ’66 didn’t foldaway into a case to pop down the milk bar and work remotely, this never moved unless someone was changing offices and a guy called Keith from facilities turned up with a crane. Like military issue, this was a typewriter that din’t have time to break down and was all about function and reliable performance.

The Imperial Typewriter Company (1954-1967) populated everywhere from the civil service to law offices. Pale green metallic body and Qwerty key-tops, an unique feature of the ’66 was the whole carriage assembly could be lifted off and replaced in seconds and the entire type unit could be lifted out and exchanged. This made the Imperial potentially a multi-language machine: in a few seconds you could, in theory, swap a Qwerty layout for an Azerty layout or, theoretically, slot in alternative type units offering differing typefaces (pica, elite, cursive, etc) and alphabets. You could also the standard carriage with the longer carriage commonly used by accountants and draughtsmen.

Sexist assumptions aside, while the typing pool would have been populated exclusively female, the Imperial 66 would have provided endless reams of copy for national and regional newspaper rooms, dominated by men. The Imperial 66 has a distinctly loud machine gun clatter. As is my penchant for comparing typewriters with automobiles, this is a solid 1960s Jaguar saloon (in almost racing green).

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