Typewriters: “Ultra-Portable” General Info

The ultra-portable typewriter was intended for travelers.  Particularly air, train travel.

These were never intended to write “the Great American Novel” on them.  They were for letter writing while traveling,  for traveling salesmen to fill out their order cards and reports, journalists on the go, and government types who needed to file reports while traveling.

Like any machine they can be pressed into writing longer works but they are not optimal.

Seems like most have basket carriage which is not optimal for lots of quotation marks and caps shifting like one would have with dialog.

Size Smallest to Larger:

  1. Ultra-Portables
  2. In Between:  The Olivetti Lettera models.
  3. Portables: (Luggables).
  4. Office.

Typewriter: Olivetti Lettera 22 and 32

These are larger than an ultra-portable but smaller than a portable. (A coffee shop model?)


I list the 22 and the 32 together, because they really are so similar. While the 32 is a better machine, in my opinion, some consider the 22 to me more beautiful.

The model 22 was from the 1950’s.  The 32 came 13 years later 1960’s.  Same designer.  32 more squared off.  (I presume they corrected some design flaws and weaknesses of the 22.)

Typewriter: Olympia SF Ultra-Portable

All Olympia’s are well built.  German.  They tend to be heavier than other brand ultra-portables.

SF is meant for travel.  Reputed to have the good typing feel of the bigger Olympia models in a small package.

Other models.

‘Splendid 33, 66, and 99 have more features and more sound insulation within.

SF is a base model to save weight.

Typewriters: Hermes Rocket and Brother 44 or Brother Charger | Fiction vs Non-Fiction Writing

All are ultra portables.

Info from: https://typewriterreview.com/2021/09/01/brother-44/

Where the Brother is not so nimble is the clunky carriage shift. It’s a trait common to ultra-portables. To arrive at such a small package, gone is the space for a lighter basket shift. Brother solves shifting by raising and lowering the entire carriage in a bench press like move with the shift key. And when the shift is released, the carriage comes crashing down. If you’re a fiction writer with lots of witty dialogue, getting to all those quote marks will be a chore

This is interesting because I never thought about how the carriage shift would be different for writing fiction vs. non-fiction.  All those quote marks.

If you are going to be writing fiction the more expensive Hermes Rocket is the better choice.


Pile of Index Cards System

Pile of Index Cards System (PoIC)

This is a note taking system using index cards.  I’m copying this down because the original website and wiki for the PoIC system are gone and most other sites just refer to it with a now dead link.

How it works
Hawk describes four types of cards in his system:

The Record Card. He describes it as “a diary, note, account, health, weather, cook, any kind of records about us belongs to this class.” I’d say this is the incoming “stuff” of the day: appointments, notes to follow up on, etc.
The Discover Card. Hawk describes the Discover Card as “Things from my brain, mind, spirit, anything emerge from inside me, are classified into this class.” This is the result of a mind dump. Don’t worry about classifying when filling out a Discover Card. Just get whatever is on your mind out and onto paper.
The GTD Card. Here he combines the title of a project and several actions that pertain to it (here’s a look at the template in English). This reminds me of the “Hipstper PDA Template” I used religiously about 10 years ago.
The Cite Card captures other people’s ideas that warrant attention. He says, “Important here is distinguishing ‘your idea (Discovery Card)’ and ‘someone else’s idea (Cite Card).’ Source of the information must be included in the Cite Card. A book, for example, author, year, page(s) are recorded for later use.”

In essence this is a Commonplace book broken up into card sized chunks.

Speculation:  You could probably make a digital version of this system much like Cyberzettel.com using Wordpress.