Typewriters are often featured in the artwork used by film and television production companies to promote themselves, which makes sense given it is after all a natural connection: What better than a typewriter to represent screenwriters and their artistic efforts?
These animated corporate logos using a typewriter are usually run within the opening frames of a film that you’re about to watch, or during the fleeting final seconds of a television program that has just ended. And more often than not the typewriters are not literal images of a specific model, but rather a creative embodiment of a non-specific model.
Two of my more favorite typewriter adaptations are those used by Primrose Hill Productions and K/O Paper Products. The Primrose version, a skeleton clacking away at a tombstone-like machine confers the loneliness of the writing process, while K/O’s take pushes a different theme, the transfiguration of a standard typewriter by a four-handed keyboard to represent the power of collaboration in writing.
July 2016: 1955 Underwood Universal
From the mid to late ‘50s Underwood displayed what appeared to be a scattered, if not manic approach to the design of its portable typewriter cases. Four different designs existed over the five year span, and even the Underwood logo that badged each machine seemed to be the subject of a constant evolutionary flux. In hindsight, when you factor in the company’s close association with (and eventual takeover by) Olivetti at the end of this period, it’s easy to view this chapter in Underwood’s history as the death throes of the company’s identity.
The ranging designs from this era included everything from curvy, deco-inspired shapes, to pragmatic and stoic enclosures. Occupying the middle ground of these design extremes is this ’55 Universal with its white enamel front cover that makes the typewriter look it belongs alongside the stoves and fridges found in American kitchens during the nifty fifties. It was daring for Underwood to present the typewriter as an appliance, and the distinctive design earns this Universal Typewriter of the Month honours.