27 Mar 2014

Typewriters through Many Eyes

Brian from BrumTypia shared two visualizations of his collection on his blog earlier today. The bar chart that I had planned to make for my collection paled in comparison to his bubble charts. I'm glad I was spared the embarrassment. Well, not really. But these look a lot better and are also more useful. Based on all the typewriters I have entered into the typewriter database (which is the vast majority of my collection although it includes a few typewriters I intend to sell soon, but it's a good data set.)

I made my bubble charts using a website by IBM. I thought that I'd never run into them again, but here I have! It's called Many Eyes and is quite useful, though it's been around for years and looks a bit dated. Who cares about that since it's free and fun to use.

The first one shows my collection by manufacturer, so for example, Consul shows as 4 because I included my Speedwriter which was manufactured by Consul. Nakajima has 1 because my Olympia B-12 belongs there. Smith-Corona includes Corona, and is an expected winner since I'm from the United States.

The second shows them by manufacturing country. It's interesting how these charts can condense information about 75 typewriters into such a simple graphic. It makes me feel like my collection isn't quite so large, perhaps. ;) It also makes me realize that I need to buy more East German typewriters!

I've been pondering about the German typewriter industry lately. Germany is a large country with a manufacturing history, but not going back as far as the US or UK. Why then did they have more long-lived typewriter manufacturers (basically I mean beginning before WWI and stretching at least to WWII) than any other country? The US was down to about 6 (Smith-Corona, Royal, Remington, Underwood, Woodstock, IBM) by the time WWII started, while Germany had at least twice as many. I won't try to count because I'm sure to miss a few!


  1. What a beautiful depiction of your collection! And yes, one wonders about the strength of the German industry, even after the massive and sometimes total destruction of the war. The other striking example is France, ever competing with Germany, but who never came up with a genuine large-scale typewriter industry.

    1. I guess it says a lot about determination, and also a desire to improve the image of their country. I can say the second goal has been a success!

      From what I understand, typewriters manufactured in France by French companies were rarely exported, and often based on other designs. Though, France really has no reputation as a manufacturing nation, at least to Americans, so I didn't give that much though.

  2. I like the Country dimension! I've played with ManyEyes too. Cool stuff.