Hermes 10 — portable as a microwave oven

The Hermes 10 is a funky machine from that generation of electric typewriters that were powered versions of manual ones — they still use a basket and typebars, and the paper goes past on the carriage, unlike say a Selectric where the paper sits still and the print head moves.

This one was bought at auction for less than $20 and it came with a case and a dust cover. The case is enormous. It could carry quite a few changes of clothes were it a suitcase. Here it is pictured beneath an Olivetti Lettera 32 in its case; the Hermes is damn near twice as wide and maybe more than that high. It’s also very heavy. And of course it needs a power socket to work, so the case is really for moving it from office to office. You’re not going to use this machine in Starbucks…

Olivetti Lettera 32 sitting on top of a Hermes 10.

It is big and heavy. It hums and smells a little like ozone — probably burning dust. It seems to work pretty well. The ribbon vibrator does not drop down as quickly as it should; I think it was over-oiled at some point (which is to say oiled at all). It seems to be in nice condition. The visible margins work, everything seems present and accounted for.

Hermes 10 from above.

One of the good things about this old design is that they do not take custom ribbon cartridges — they take conventional nylon ribbons on spools. That means unlike, say, to pick a completely random example, a CasioWriter cw-16, there’s no problem with getting ribbons even though the company behind the product is long gone, or at least long-left the industry.

Hermes 10 with the ribbon cover up, showing the conventional spools.

Touch is … odd. A bit like a big calculator. Pretty easy to get used to, though. Hitting return and watching the whole carriage zip back and the paper feed through is pretty nifty.

The arrangement of keys will be familiar to anyone who knows a Hermes 3000, though the backspace is where us computer users expect it to be — top-right rather than top-left as it is in the 3000. Here is the character set — one lonely accented ‘e’.

Character set from my Hermes 10.

Quite useful. Not as many fractions as older machines, but cents, at, pound and dollar.

The x, =, – and _ characters can repeat (for crossing out and drawing lines), though the _ and – cut lines through the paper; possibly an adjustment is needed or the platen is too hard. It’s a small enough issue and not enough to make me do major works on the machine.

Ser. no. 2052425 (http://typewriterdatabase.com/hermes.82.typewriter-serial-number-database), which places it in 1971.

Anyway, a real bit of big iron.

Tags: , , , ,

About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: