Tag Archive | Casiowriter

Comparing typefaces

scan of type



The Super-Speed is lovely to type on, and the result is pretty good for a machine nearly 80 years old. Of all these machines, this is the one you’d put in a secluded office and use to write a great early 20th century  novel.

The 17 is pretty good given how rusty it was, but it’s a slow typer with some sticky keys.

The SG3 stands out as both very even and more modulated, and with very strongly lining figures. Almost as regular as the Selectric, which is so sharp and precise and dry. Apart from the Selectric, this is the one you’d use in the office at the firm.

The Dora is also nice and even, if dull; at present the capitals sit a little high, so some adjustment is needed, I suppose, though I doubt I’ll bother.

Hermes 10 (electric) is a little like the SG3 — some modulation, and more rounded serifs. Also, both happen to have quite dark ribbons, which makes a difference too.

The 3912C is pretty regular — but it is an electric, so the darkness ought to be uniform! Letters fade a little at the top, so either it’s not striking in the right place or the platen is just too hard. The 700T is very good for clarity and regularity, but the position of the caps isn’t matching the lower-case letters too well — could be my weight on the shift key, though, since the T and D seem okay, it’s just the B. Seems to be exactly the same selection of characters and typeface as the 3912C.

The AX-10 is a daisy wheel machine and this wheel has a slyly stylish font. The wheel says Prestige 1012. Locations of symbols ($, # etc) are more similar to a computer keyboard, as might be expected for a relatively new machine. A good machine for kids to type on — clean type and not too much key pressure needed.

The other Brother, the EP-44, is a very different beast. It is a thermal dot matrix printer with a keyboard. It cannot do carbons, but can work as a serial text-only printer. Being electronic, it has a second shift key that gives access to a wider range of characters — hence the third line. The typeface looks a bit like a monospace Times. Not bad though looks a bit pixelated on close inspection and descenders are basically false. Can also do underlines.

The cw-16 probably looks more pixelated then the EP, but gives a very wide range of characters and the options of bold, 10 or 12 pitch, double width (in each pitch) and underlined. This example is, like the EP-44 example, printed on thermal paper, and again the descenders are very shallow, almost false.

SM-8 is very niceely aligned, and only slightly understruck right at the tops of the ascenders. A very nice and quite portable machine.

The Clipper looks pretty good for a machine its age and with an older ribbon. Sharp, well-aligned and even, except for the fractions — and I think I hit those a bit hard… and maybe they need a clean, too.


Repairing a Casiowriter cw-16: Pictures for Sasha

This is a few more details of the repair that I referred to in this post. It was a very tricky operation, and in giving some details on what I did, I did not want to much dismantle my machine in case I could not get it back together… so this is not completely comprehensive… Here we go.

First, we just take off the semitransparent ribbon cover.

Photo of typewriter

Casiowriter cw-16, top view.

Then, take a close look at the ribbon cassette holder, especially the metal plate that sits on top. If you look closely at the metal plate, you can see that there’s a little bent-down tab on the top edge (as oriented in the photo below). It acts like a spring, holding it in place. A small flat head screwdriver and bit bit of pressing and pulling should allow the plate to be popped off.

Photo of the plate the ribbon sits on

The ribbon cassette holder on the Casiowriter cw-16.

When that’s done, it looks something like the picture below. I have left this as a big image, so you can blow it up and try to see some details.

Photo of the gears that drag the ribbon

Details of the problem part.

Now, in the end I pulled off some more parts — I got that flat ribbon cable that passes around the spindle out of the way, and messed around very gingerly. I can’t say that I had to do that — it might be fixable in place. I was lucky enough to find the little metal shaft that the gear runs on also inside the typewriter. I then put the gear on the shaft, put the tiniest bit of glue on the shaft, using the end of a toothpick, and pushed the shaft back into place using a bit of bent metal. The glue was to both hold the shaft in and fix the crack in the bracket, as per the illustration below. When I pushed it in without the glue, the crack meant the shaft did not stay in place and it fell off again.

xFig drawing of the piece

Rough diagram of the bracket and where the crack was

If the shaft is missing, a suitable short screw or something might do the job.

The tensioning spring needs to be noted. Take lots of photos while working, and take care to avoid any bits pinging across the workshop when they come loose…

NOTE: This does not need to be fixed if using thermal paper and no ribbon, and given that the ribbon cannot be easily replaced (no longer being made, as far as I know), you have the option to just get a fax roll from an office supplies place. Just make sure it is full width, not cash register paper…


Good luck.

Casiowriter cw-16 character set (American keyboard)

Printed on thermal paper and scanned (and post-processed in ImageJ to tidy it up, but only a little). Includes some Greek, a good set of math symbols, accented characters, including the ability to put any accent on any letter, some fractions, degree/minute/second symbols, paragraph marks (pilcrow, is it?). Pre-dates euro, of course, otherwise pretty useful.

Scanned typed document.

Complete character set from Casiowriter cw-16, shown as typed on thermal paper.


Just for reference.

Crop every page in a multipage PDF file

Apply the same crop to every page in a multipage PDF file. Requires pdftk, Ghostscript, and sometimes pdf2ps/ps2pdf.

See end of post for copy of bash script. Found it at:


I found best to use gv (or GSview) to get the right, left, top, bottom pixels to crop, then explicitly specify using the -t switch.

$ ./pdfcrop.sh -t "2 182 3 183" cw16.pdf cw16_crop.pdf

Note the quote marks around the crop values. They are in order left, top, right, bottom.

Try on Casiowriter manual from https://www.manualslib.com/download/777108/Casio-Cw-16.html. (See this bit of nonsense.)


Image of front page of manual, showing large white space bands at top and bottom.

Before using pdfcrop.sh

After (though one page — the second — came out wrong and I don’t know why, but I fixed that by first processing the original PDF, first I went pdf2ps then ps2pdf and made a cleaned up PDF; then all was perfect when I ran the cropper):

Image of front page of manual, showing no large white space bands at top and bottom.

After pdfcrop.sh

The script:

$ cat pdfcrop.sh

function usage () {
  echo "Usage: `basename $0` [Options]  []"
  echo " * Removes white margins from each page in the file. (Default operation)"
  echo " * Trims page edges by given amounts. (Alternative operation)"
  echo "If only  is given, it is overwritten with the cropped output."
  echo "Options:"
  echo " -m \" [ [ ]]\""
  echo "    adds extra margins in default operation mode. Unit is bp. A single number"
  echo "    is used for all margins, two numbers \" \" are applied to the"
  echo "    right and bottom margins alike."
  echo " -t \" [ [ ]]\""
  echo "    trims outer page edges by the given amounts. Unit is bp. A single number"
  echo "    is used for all trims, two numbers \" \" are applied to the"
  echo "    right and bottom trims alike."
  echo " -hires"
  echo "    %%HiResBoundingBox is used in default operation mode."
  echo " -help"
  echo "    prints this message."

mar=(0 0 0 0); tri=(0 0 0 0)

while getopts m:t:h: opt
  case $opt
    eval mar=($OPTARG)
    [[ -z "${mar[1]}" ]] && mar[1]=${mar[0]}
    [[ -z "${mar[2]}" || -z "${mar[3]}" ]] && mar[2]=${mar[0]} && mar[3]=${mar[1]}
    eval tri=($OPTARG)
    [[ -z "${tri[1]}" ]] && tri[1]=${tri[0]}
    [[ -z "${tri[2]}" || -z "${tri[3]}" ]] && tri[2]=${tri[0]} && tri[3]=${tri[1]}
    if [[ "$OPTARG" == "ires" ]]
      usage 1>&2; exit 0
    usage 1>&2; exit 1
shift $((OPTIND-1))

[[ -z "$1" ]] && echo "`basename $0`: missing filename" 1>&2 && usage 1>&2 && exit 1
[[ -n "$1" ]] && output=$1 && shift;

    [[ "$c" -eq 0 ]] && gs -dNOPAUSE -q -dBATCH -sDEVICE=bbox "$input" 2>&1 | grep "%%$bbtype"
    pdftk "$input" output - uncompress
) | perl -w -n -s -e '
  BEGIN {@m=split /\s+/, $mar; @t=split /\s+/, $tri;}
  if (/BoundingBox:\s+([\d\.\s]+\d)/) { push @bbox, $1; next;}
  elsif (/\/MediaBox\s+\[([\d\.\s]+\d)\]/) { @mb=split /\s+/, $1; next; }
  elsif (/pdftk_PageNum\s+(\d+)/) {
      print "/MediaBox [", join(" ", @mb), "]\n";
    } else {
      @bb=split /\s+/, $bbox[$p];
      print "/MediaBox [", join(" ", @bb), "]\n";
' -- -mar="${mar[*]}" -tri="${tri[*]}" -c=$c | pdftk - output "$output" compress

Thanks to the inventor!


Casiowriter CW-16: Fax rolls and batteries

What can I say? It was $5. A significant problem with these old things is that the cartridges/cassettes/ribbons/whatever are proprietary and no longer getting made. On the other hand, this old Casio can print thermally as well as using ink, and I have a bunch of old fax rolls kicking around.

Here is the test page (insert paper, hold down ‘code’ while turning on). It actually looks a lot better than this scan.

Did not come with a carry bag or AC adapter, but runs fine off 4 D-cells. Of course, they are worth more than the machine is.

At first it would not print properly using ink. It turned out the little cog that drags the tape through the cassette had come off. I found it inside the machine and, with a bit of jiggery pokery and a little dismantling and remantling, got it to work again. That was pleasing. Here is a fuzzy picture of the ‘compliance plate’. According to http://typewriterdatabase.com/, 1034105 is as unknown as all the others. I think they came out around 1984 or so.

So the consumables are the batteries and the fax paper, and the ribbon, but at least the ribbon is optional. You can have ribbon and plain paper or no ribbon and fax paper. Options, 1985 style.

This is the cassette. They are meant to be used once. If you rewind it, you can see the letters that have been pressed out of it. When these kinds of machines came into offices and such, this became a security concern. I have not bothered to read the previous owner(s) correspondence, but I did rewind the tape a little just to see if I could rewind it. It works pretty well. Not very well, since where the ink has been used there is no ink at all, but it was just an experiment. You can see the sticky tape I put on it (the clips that hold it together did not work too well on reassembly…)

Oh, here’s the LCD. It does not hold a lot of words, but it is useful, and easily viewable in bright light, unlike the screen on a modern laptop. Indeed, this is quite a reasonable machine for typing outdoors.

Actual user review: This was a fairly low-end machine in its day, but it is quite usable. It can print 12 or 10 pitch, double width, bold, underline. It has direct print (like a normal typewriter), line print (print a line once it is finished, either by return key or reaching the margin) and a reasonably effective fully justified mode, in which when it hits the right margin it adjusts word spacing before printing the line. It is easy to fix spelling mistakes, though much quicker if you don’t need to use the spell checker. The keyboard is not great. It lacks the positive feel of a good computer keyboard (say IBM-M), and also the sensitive touch of a modern keyboard. I found when I tried to type fast I often dropped letters. That’s probably the main failing, really. It’s quite large, not really compact, either. For example, does not fit in a standard-size briefcase. So it is a bit odd — it can run off batteries, as if it’s meant to be ported around, but it has a large footprint and is bulky to carry — bulkier than, say, an Olympia SF. (Which was not the last, was it?)

The 24-pin dot-matrix type is a bit spidery, especially thermally, though there are 5 impression levels. There is a good range of characters, including proper superscript 2 and 3, a few Greek letters and mathematical symbols. Can set line spacing, tabs, margins, etc. Recommends against using textured paper.

Conclusion: In 2017, even free is probably too expensive, but in its day it would have been a useful compromise between price, portability and capability. At least the thermal printing means the lack of replacement cassettes does not brick it.

Why oh why oh.