Last updated: August 11, 2021

Typewriters still have a permanent place at countless desks today. In recent years, the typewriter has even experienced a renaissance. The nostalgically glamorous and tried-and-tested writing instruments are ideal for indulging in the pure magic of writing. Without the distraction of incoming emails or the tempting vastness of the internet. Moreover, typewriters are unbeatably reliable.

Many renowned authors prefer to work on their typewriters, which are the source of a variety of great texts and books. With this detailed typewriter test 2021 we would like to make it easier for you to decide on the right typewriter. Therefore, we have carefully listed the advantages and disadvantages of the different devices and compared various models with each other. This should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




The most important facts in brief

  • Typewriters are proven classics among writing instruments and enable you to write without distractions and with data security.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between mechanical, electric and electronic typewriters.
  • Mechanical machines score points with their nostalgic look and the classic clacking of the keys, while their technically more sophisticated successors come with functions such as correction memory and formatting options.

The Best Typewriter: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a typewriter

What is a typewriter?

A typewriter is used to put printed text on paper. This is done by pressing keys, similar to the keyboard we are used to. The letters or characters are then printed onto the paper using a ribbon.

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Pressing the keys sets the type levers in motion.
(Image source: unsplash.com / David Klein)

The first functioning typewriters were developed at the beginning of the 19th century and experienced their heyday in the middle of the 20th century. With the invention of the computer, these useful devices were displaced from the late 1980s onwards.

What are the advantages of using a typewriter?

Typewriters have experienced their own renaissance in recent years. Mainly for reasons of data protection, the typewriter has been able to re-establish itself on the market. In fact, typewriters have clear advantages over computers or laptops, which we have summarised in the following section.

  • Less distraction
  • Writing feel
  • Data security
  • Easier form filling
  1. Less distraction: A big plus of the typewriter is that it is far less distracted by the internet. Incoming mails or the lure of social media sites are less likely to arouse curiosity while typing on a typewriter and enable concentrated work.
  2. Typing feeling: Typewriters exude a certain "charm" and evoke nostalgic feelings. The uniquely gratifying typing feeling and the possibility of seeing one's results directly on paper clearly put the typewriter ahead of the computer.
  3. Data security: Since typewriters are not connected to the internet, your texts can only be read by people who have access to your papers. Using typewriters therefore offers guaranteed protection of your data.
  4. Filling in forms: If you want to fill out a form in printed script, this is especially easy with a typewriter. The paper can be effortlessly placed in the correct position and thus filled in legibly.

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Typewriters offer advantages over modern computers, such as data protection and writing without distractions.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Glenn Carstens Peters)

Which typewriter manufacturers are particularly recommended?

From their invention to their heyday before the invention of the computer, several manufacturers were able to successfully position themselves on the market and are still in demand today. Some of them are briefly introduced below.

The first patent was registered by Henry Mill in 1714.
  • Triumph Adler: The German company Triumph Adler made a particularly good name for itself. It ended its own production in 1998. Now the Bandermann company sells two models in German office supply mail-order companies.
  • Brother: Brother Industries is a globally active company with headquarters in Japan and other locations in Germany and Austria. Today, the company is best known for its sewing machines.
  • Remington: The Remington typewriters were the first mass-produced typewriters and first appeared on the market in 1874. One famous Remington user was the author Mark Twain.
  • Underwood: The Underwood typewriters became famous with the invention of being able to correct what was written immediately. Likewise, these models were the first to accommodate the special character @ on the keyboard. Underwood was taken over by Olivetti in 1963. The last machine under the Underwood name was produced in the mid-1980s.
  • Olivetti: Olivetti is an Italian manufacturer and focused, among other things, on the production of portable travel typewriters. Production was discontinued in 1994. Models of the Olivetti brand are therefore only available second-hand.
  • Olympia: The Olympia factories were based in Germany and closed in 1991. Under the still existing brand name, the company still sells typewriters today. Well-known users are the writer Paul Auster and also Woody Allen.

What are the alternatives to a typewriter?

  • Modern computer: The most obvious alternative to a typewriter is a computer or laptop. The computer dominates the market mainly because of its light weight, ease of use and wide range of functions.
  • Writing computers: Distraction-free writing is also possible with special writing computers for on the go, which are not distracted by the internet but have cloud storage. These combine a mechanical keyboard with a display.
  • Keyboard: If you are primarily concerned with the typing feel, you can use keyboards for your PC that are surprisingly similar to the tried-and-tested typewriter keys.
  • Font: If the typeface is most important, the Word font "Courier" is particularly suitable.

Decision: What types of typewriters are there and which one is right for you?

If you want to buy a typewriter, there are three main options to choose from.

  • Mechanical typewriters
  • Electric typewriters
  • Electronic typewriters

Depending on why you want to use a typewriter and what features are important to you, you will decide which typewriter is right for you.

Type Priority
Mechanical typewriter Nostalgia + typing feel
Electric typewriter Easy keystroke + Even typeface
Electronic typewriter Formatting facility + Correction memory

The following section introduces the three variants and should help you make your decision.

What are the characteristics of a mechanical typewriter and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Do you prefer nostalgia and the feeling of typing? You want to work independently of a power source and your budget is not too big? Then a mechanical typewriter is the best choice for you.

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Mechanical typewriters are also the model of choice if you are looking for a decorative element.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Shelby Miller)

The typeface is created on mechanical typewriters as follows: Tapping the key sets a type lever in motion, causing the letter type to strike an ink ribbon, which is thus printed on the paper underneath.

Mechanical typewriters are no longer produced and can therefore be bought second-hand.

Make sure that you can still buy ribbons for your chosen model. The weight of these machines is also relatively high. If you want to take the typewriter with you on your travels, pay attention to the weight of the machine when buying it.

Advantages
  • Low price
  • nostalgic look
  • typing feel
  • independent of a power source
Disadvantages
  • Heavy weight
  • Accessories may no longer be available
  • Limited formatting options
  • No memory

What are the features of an electric typewriter and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

If ease of use, ease of typing and an even typeface are your priorities, it's best to choose an electric typewriter. Electric typewriters also work with an ink or carbon ribbon. However, it is not finger pressure that sets the type in motion, but an electromechanical process. In most cases, the pressure is generated by a ball head or a type wheel.

Electric typewriters offer a more even typeface than their mechanical predecessors and require less force.

Before buying, make sure that ink ribbons and correction ribbons are still available for your model.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Uniform typeface
  • Low effort
Disadvantages
  • Accessories may no longer be available
  • Dependent on a power source
  • Limited formatting options
  • No memory

What are the features of an electronic typewriter and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Do you value modern functions without distractions? Layout and easy correction are important to you? Then an electronic typewriter is ideal for you.

Electronic typewriters are already small writing computers and offer a wide range of formatting options.

The formatting options of electronic typewriters include functions such as text alignment, bold and italic print, correction memory and modern special characters such as @. Electronic typewriters often have a hefty price tag, but usually come with a guarantee because they are purchased new. When choosing a model, also consider the cost of accessories.

Advantages
  • Wide range of formatting options
  • correction memory
Disadvantages
  • High price
  • depends on a power source

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate typewriters

Now we would like to show you some criteria that you can use to compare the different models of typewriters and decide which one is right for you.

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what the individual criteria are.

Price

Apart from the consideration of what you want to use the typewriter for, your budget will also play an important role in your decision.

Type Price segment
Mechanical typewriter Low
Electric typewriter Low - Medium
Electronic typewriter Medium - High

Mechanical typewriters are particularly suitable for a small budget. These are only available second-hand and are often very cheap. Electric typewriters are in the middle range, depending on the model. Rare, valuable models of all three types of typewriters can command high prices on the market.

Weight

While electronic typewriters are often easily transportable, you will probably not be able to take a mechanical typewriter with you to the library or on holiday. Therefore, before buying, think carefully about what you want to use the machine for.

Typing feel

Electric and electronic typewriters offer a light and pleasant typing feel. Here, the typeface is no longer created by finger pressure alone and you will be able to produce several pages of text effortlessly. However, when buying a typewriter, other functions are often in the foreground. If you are mainly interested in the typical clacking of the keys, if you want to write only occasionally or only a little, or if the typewriter serves as decoration, a mechanical typewriter is most likely to offer the typing feeling you are looking for.

Correction facility

Mechanical or electric typewriters often offer white ink eraser ribbons in addition to the ink or carbon ribbon. Before buying, check whether eraser ribbons are still available for your chosen model. Electronic typewriters usually already have a correction ribbon. This allows you to correct the last line written before it is finally printed.

Formatting option

Modern electronic typewriters allow you to choose the font, print in bold or italics, or align the text left-justified, right-justified or justified. If these features are important to you, only an electronic typewriter comes into question and you should pay attention to which features the different models offer.

Need for a power supply

If you want to work independently of a power source, a mechanical typewriter is best for you.

Facts worth knowing about typewriters

How do you care for a typewriter?

A typewriter should always be covered with a dust cover. Typewriters require little or no oil. If it is necessary, it must never get into the segments. (This is where the type levers are attached.) Bicycle oil or Ballistol has proven to be effective for this purpose.

Where can I buy a new colour or eraser tape?

New ink ribbons or eraser ribbons are available in well-stocked office supply shops. They are also available online, for example on ebay or amazon. Most models require ribbons with a width of 13mm.

Image source: Belchonock/ 123rf.com

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