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Underwood/Corona Keyboard

Keyboard with the "look and feel" of a classic typewriter.
  [vote for,

All right halfbakers: I need your help for my next project - the Underwood/Corona Keyboard. This idea differs only slightly from the "Typewriter Computer" idea that I discovered during my halfbakery preemption check. Here we take a standard computer keyboard, pop off the keys, and replace them with classic manual typewriter style units. The body of the keyboard is then modified with a gunmetal finish and simple curves such that it reflects the "look and feel" of the classic.

Unlike the "Typewriter Computer," I do not want simply to convert an entire manual typewriter into a computer input device. For one thing, I'm not interested having a massive chunk of metal sucking up space on my desktop. I also think that you could market my idea in the form of kits used to retro-fit (pun intended) standard keyboards available on the market.

So far my ideas for baking this include: trip to the flea market for old-style but cheap manual typewriter to disassemble, a fair amount of epoxy resin, and perhaps some spray-on faux metal finish from the hardware shop. Sounds like a disaster. Suggestions??

EvilHomer, Feb 09 2003

Typewriter Computer http://www.halfbake...pewriter_20computer
[EvilHomer, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Corona Keyboard http://w1.131.telia...3101111/corona.html
Very Hemingwayesque. [jurist, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Corona Specs http://homepage.mac...orona/Corona-3.html
An enthusiast's page [FloridaManatee, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

http://www.multipledigression.com/type/ [half, Jan 15 2007]

The Nagy Magical-Movable-Type Pixello-Dynamotronic Computational Engine™ http://www.datamanc...s/engine/engine.htm
[angel, Jan 15 2007]

Steampunk Keyboard Mod http://www.vonslatt....com/keyboard.shtml
Step by step instructions [angel, Feb 23 2007]

The typewriter-keyboard conversion http://www.multipledigression.com/type/
[angel, Feb 24 2007]

Japanese lacquer keyboard http://www.designbo...Y_PK=&TOPIC_PK=1140
[sixessevens, Feb 25 2007]


       You are going to have a difficult time finding "Page Up", "Page Down", "Delete" and "Escape" keys (to identify just a few) on your salvage yard manual typewriters; and having a mix and match approach of old style and new style keys is not going to provide the cool retro look you are seeking.
jurist, Feb 09 2003

       Well, it's certainly a halfbaked notion.
bristolz, Feb 09 2003

       Well, I knew that [jurist]. But I figure that can be deat with by using more than one junkyard typewriter and simply relabling the keys. Of course, none of this is a problem if you simply design and manufacture a kit from scratch, Restoration-Hardware style. Wouln't you admit, though, that in the right decorating scheme this would look pretty cool?
EvilHomer, Feb 09 2003

       For the coolest retro look and tactile feel, I always thought the portable Corona machines with their circular chrome-rimmed keys had the Underwood beat hands down.(link)
jurist, Feb 09 2003

       Good point. Idea revised accordingly - thanks jurist.
EvilHomer, Feb 09 2003

       Nice idea (+)   

       My technical suggestions:   

       (1) Practical, fiddly   

       Microswitches mounted under the keyboard triggered by the conn-rods of each key.   

       (2) Halfbaked - delay acceptable   

       Optical character recognition of characters typed on paper   

       (3) Halfbaked - delay unacceptable   

       Touch sensitive pins mounted on micro-sensor array at the point of impact. You'll have to cut a groove through the paper feed roller and it'll be useless for paper-typing   

       (4) Heath Robinson / Rube Goldberg   

       Feed the keystrokes in assembler code through an old punch-card machine and an early model VAX. Computer is programmed to relay one keystroke at a time into your PC via an outdated protocol.   

       (5) Commercial   

       License the form from Corona. Build an all-electronic replica using the new materials and modern switching. You lose much of the romanticism but at least it works and is maintainance free and can be produced in volume at an addordable price.
FloridaManatee, Feb 10 2003

       //You are going to have a difficult time finding "Page Up", "Page Down", "Delete" and "Escape" keys (to identify just a few) on your salvage yard manual typewriters; //   

       Dead keys (see below) should provide ample function keys. Page Up, etc, could be run off a function key combo. Function key identity could be done in a subtle off-black toned letter on the existing keys or even be memorised.   

       "Keyboard: Three rows. The regular model has 28 keys writing 84 characters; the X-C has 30 keys writing 90 characters; The XC-D model has 30 keys writing 90 characters of which four keys are "dead" (i.e., these four keys are not connected with the spacing mechanism and are used for language accents). Right and left hand shift keys with left hand shift lock and release. Back space key situated above and to right of keyboard. " - See Corona Specs link
FloridaManatee, Feb 10 2003

       Fascinating link, [half]. If that fellow had found a way to readily produce Smith-Corona conversion keyboards I would have to own one. I don't think I could master the soldering skills necessary to follow his instructions on my own.
jurist, Jan 15 2007

       I'm still half expecting someone to come up with a little pressure transducer array that gets struck by the normally operating letter/typebar mechanism and electronically decodes which key was hit. With a Bluetooth interface, of course.
half, Jan 16 2007

       //I'm still half expecting someone to come up with a little pressure transducer array that gets struck by the normally operating letter/typebar mechanism and electronically decodes which key was hit.//   

       Too hard to install. Better to simply mount a couple of vibration sensors to the sides of the carriage. I would expect that when the hammer strikes, it will send a shock wave which will travel in a different pattern depending upon which key was hit.   

       Things like the shift key might need separate sensors, to allow for things like shifted mouse-clicks, but I think one could do a lot by sensing vibrations.   

       On the other hand, since I don't think the carriage could move when tying for a computer (absent some electric device to reset the mechanism every 70 characters or so) it would probably be necessary to put some sort of vibration-absorbing device in place when computer-typing if one did not want to lose the ability to use the type writer the old-fashioned way.
supercat, Feb 24 2007

       See my third link for a Smith-Corona interfaced to a computer.
angel, Feb 24 2007

       Fascinating, all. If you want the look (if not feel) of a manual typewriter, why not just design one? For one thing, who decided the keys had to be square or rectangular? I understand why the manual keys were round (jamming issues, for one). They're square on laptops to avoid gunk falling beneath the keyboard, I suppose. But 'keycaps' is one possible solution worth considering.   

       In a similar vein, check out my link to a Japanese concern making lacquered keyboards: a nice intersection of traditional and modern.
sixessevens, Feb 25 2007


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