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Columbia Index 2

First year of production:
Columbia Type Writer Company , New York , USA
Serial nr:

The Columbia Type Writer was the first typewriter invented by Charles Spiro of New York, who went on to develop the equally famous Bar-lock typewriter in 1889. The small index machine that Spiro developed in the early 1880s was not a tremendous commercial success, but it lived to gain a tremendous reputation among collectors for its esthetic qualities.

Spiro was a watch maker, which may help to explain the good looks of his machines. The Columbia index is a circular index machine, operated by turning the large wooden handle attached to the vertical typewheel. This turns the clock-like arm on the index wheel, to show which letter is selected and in position to print down, onto the paper. And, as if to stress the sense of precision of a watch maker, the Columbia was the first typewriter to have proportional spacing, a feature that would be the USP of only a very limited number of machines, even in the late 20th Century.

The first Columbia Index wrote capital letters only, but the Colubmia 2, that is shown here, wrote capitals and lower case letters. An intermediate model had used two typewheels to print lower case and capitals. Inking is accomplished by a small round inking pad that is located between the lower part of the typewheel and the platen. As the knob is pushed down, the pad moves sideways and upwards, clearing the way for the wheel to touch the paper.

The machine presented here came with a set of different typewheels.

Courtesy of: Costa collection