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From the Virtual Typewriter Collection of Hans Boersma:
1962 Optima M12

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1962 Optima M12
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Status: My Collection
Created: 01-24-2017 at 05:38AM
Last Edit: 03-05-2017 at 06:29AM

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Optima M12 Typewriter Galleries


Built in the former German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR) by VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt.

Dutch keyboard (qwerty), Elite typeface (twelve-pitch), five line-spacing settings, keyboard touch regulator, three-colour ribbon selector, keyset tabulator, s p e r r s a t z - key, typebar unblocking key, rapid paper insertion handle, extending paper support with scale. Weight: 18,1 kg.

The M12 was introduced on the 1957 Leipzig Autumn Trade Fair (Leipziger Herbstmesse) and was in production until 1966. Under its rounded coach work it is basically an M10. The standard version had a decimal tabulator; the version at hand was announced in the 2/1959 issue of the Neue Technik im Büro magazine, to be released in the following year as a "correspondence version" (Korrespondenzmodell) with a keyset tabulator and a 32 cm carriage.

The standard colour of the M12 was described by Optima as "fish silver grey" (fischsilbergrau), but I'm not sure that relates to this colour. The brown keytops and knobs appear to be bakelite, which by 1962 must already have been rather old-fashioned. The keytops were somewhat faded but I was able to restore them to their milk chocolateness with HG Furniture Polish (similar to Pledge, I suspect).

Quite remarkable is the location of the touch regulator: under the carriage, which has to be dismounted first for adjustment (like on all Optima standard machines by pressing the two buttons on the rear). Apparently this was done to prevent "incompetent strangers" to mess with your personal touch control setting — at least, that is what Google Translate was able to extract from a Russian user manual (see links).

The carriage has a seperate serial number: 305941, which if read as a machine number also points to 1962 as production year. Also available were 24, 47 and 67 cm carriages.

This is the heaviest typewriter of the machine park here; if you think a Hermes Ambassador is heavy, this one weighs almost 4 kilos more. It is also surprisingly quiet, as the inside of the coach work is covered with acres of thick wool felt. The rapid paper insertion works very well. Key action was rather heavy but as with my M16 this improved notably after I lowered the tension on the mainspring. A pleasant writing machine.


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Hans Boersma
Username: Java68

I'm not a collector. Or well, I try not to be one anyway. Typewriters should be used IMHO, and how to choose from an increasingly anonymous multitude? There is much to say for having just one typewriter, and sticking to it.

But then again, there are so much beautiful and interesting typewriters out there, all with their own character and historical background... So I refer to my modest collection as "the machine park" and do my best to keep it from becoming a multitude.

I decidedly favour standard-size typewriters: large office workhorses that throw their considerable weight behind one's labours. Nicely over-dimensioned machines with a more than agreeable keyboard touch and a business-like appearance. Ready for any job.

I enjoy looking at "typewriter porn" on sites such as these, which provide an adequate substitute to having a larger collection myself. So... thank you for showing me yours!

1962 Optima M12 Photo Gallery

Click a thumbnail to view slideshow