Machine Monday: Remington Portable

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Nothing makes me think of a pulp author slaving away at a new story than an antique typewriter and no typewriter accomplishes this feat more than the Remington Portable. The first truly portable four bank machine introduced in 1920, it was a resounding success with no competition until Royal and Underwood introduced similar models in 1926. The original model (often referred to as #1) was produced in vast quantities from 1920 right up to the beginning of 1925. The machine itself was a shiny black with a wood or metal case. The case was often covered in a black cloth or leather.

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Subtle improvements marked the Remington Portable #2 which was produced from 1925 until the end of 1928. The biggest difference was the addition of various colored machines. For eight years, the Remington Portable absolutely dominated the typewriter market. So much so, one can find these tough little machines all through flea markets, antique shops, and online auctions. These machines were solidly built to withstand less-than-stellar travel arrangements for reporters, authors, and other professionals. These were built to last and the price-tag reflected this. The price for on in 1924 was listed as $60, no small sum then.

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More improvements followed, leading to the production of the Portable #3 (1928-1938). The Portable #4 was a slightly more expensive version of the #3 with a true tab instead of a paragraph key. It was produced concurrently with the #3 (1931-1934). The true hero of the Remington Portable line was the #5 (1932-1939). It was sturdier and broader than the previous models and quickly became ‘the world’s best seller’. The traditional glass keys were replaced with plastic on the Remington Portable #7 (1931-1941) and this is where all the nostalgic charm wears off for me. A true typewriter really needs those beautiful glass keys…but that may just be me.

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