Olivetti Underwood Studio 44

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Olivetti Underwood Studio 44 (1965)

Olivetti Underwood Studio 44 (1965)

At first glance, you notice the size. For a portable typewriter, it’s rather large. But once you get it on the desk, the sleek lines make it appear more accessible. Olivetti’s are known for their great curves and design. The Studio 44 is no exception. Even the name “studio” suggests an artist at work. This is not your standard office typewriter, but it has the solid mechanicals required for doing work, lots of work.

And that’s where Olivetti has positioned this typewriter. According to their brochure: “When the performance of a standard typewriter is required in the space of a portable. The Studio 44 bridges the gap when a standard machine would be uneconomical and a personal portable unsuitable.” Make no doubt, they’ve designed this machine for someone who takes their words seriously. If you’re after an occasional typewriter for the letter or memo, this is not your typewriter. But like Olivetti states, it’s not so large, that you can’t move it around.

Nothing about this typewriter feels flimsy. When you strike a key, there’s a measured pace to the typebar. According to Olivetti, “the typebar movement is based on the principle of progressive acceleration.” Somehow it almost doesn’t feel mechanical, but more like an extension of your fingers. Other typewriters feel like they’re translating your energy to levers and joints and springs. You’re working the machine. Not so with the Studio 44, which has a softness to it, and seems to mute the actual mechanicals at work. After typing for awhile, you have the sensation that inside this machine are tendons and muscles and bone. There’s an addicting quality and a bond begins to form between human and machine. Isn’t that the goal of any artist’s tool, that it becomes one with it’s user?

Rolling paper into the platen is smooth and quiet. The rollers on the paper scale are metal, and make light contact with the paper. The paper supports are a bit tricky to deploy. There’s two of them that require you to push down on the exposed part to get them to flip up. The margin stops are easy to slide into position.

The carriage return lever is a two-piece construction. It hinges back for storing the typewriter in the case. The carriage return paddle is big, making it quite easy to use and find. If you do lots of typing you’ll appreciate how easy the carriage return works. It feels smooth in your fingers and after repeat use, carriage returns come naturally and easily. It seems like a lot went into the design of the carriage return paddle. Again, it reinforces Olivetti’s mission to combine design with function. It’s one of those small things the power user will appreciate after hundreds of pages of a manuscript.

Typed characters come out bright, true and aligned. Olivetti claims the perfect alignment is because the carriage movement is comprised of a steel tube that glides over roller bearings.

A quirky design element are the carriage release levers. The one on the left is low and flat, while the right one sits up high. The purpose of this is a bit puzzling. At first, you might think they perform different functions. But, this has been the same design since the Leterra 22.

Overall, when it comes down to turning out page after page of manuscript, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Studio 44. It’s got the same great styling as the Lettera models, but with the solid feel of a standard desktop.


    1. I have had Olivetti studio 44 for over 4 years and love it dearly, but with hearing you say that makes it so much better. Thank you. it is so great to know that people are using the typewriter that I use since i thought it was one that nobody liked.

      1. People still use it – my father still uses his ’59 Studio 44 daily in 2020. I set him up with his first computer ever this year, but he still uses the typewriter for anything that goes on paper!

        Per the articles, the ‘tendon, muscle and bone’ quip is so accurate. The long, smooth ‘throw’ of the armature feels so organic, and you can vary your keystrike power greatly.

  1. Hi. Looking for your opinion, as you have owned or tested out many different machines, I am currently using a Smith Corona Sterling, 1952. Nice machine, but it is an elite 12 pt font that is very small. I am looking for a bigger font like PICA or a 10 point Elite font on the Olympias. So I am looking at either an Olivetti Studio 44 or an Olympia SM9. Which would you suggest? I am using it to write first drafts of novels, short stories, and maybe some scripts. What will hold up? What is a typer’s typewriter, and if possible can you tell me what each feels like or makes them different from each other? Can you compare the two to my SC Sterling. I believe you have reviewed it before. Thanks for your help.


    1. Big type and beautiful functioning – try the Olympia SM2 or SM3. My Dad bought one in the late 50’s and it’s still in use.

  2. This is a good assessment of a machine I never liked very much. It is true that nothing feels flimsy, to the point that I call it stiff. It’s hard to hate this machine though because they do print a clearer finished product than just about anything. Didn’t know about a distinctive carriage travel mechanism, that’s neat. I’ll have to look next time I see one because I sold mine.

  3. I have just acquired one of these through a family member.. is it still possible to purchase replacement ribbon? And what should i do in terms of maintenance before using it? Completely new to the world of typewritters. What does a typewritter like this one go for?

    1. Great news! You can still get ribbons. Here’s one I found on eBay. New ribbon!


      If that’s not up, search eBay for, “studio 44 ribbon”. Olivetti typewriters have a wider ribbon spindle than most, so standard or universal ribbons won’t work.

      As for maintenance, not much! If it types, you’re good to go!

      Resale varies, I’d say between $75-$150, depending on condition. You can always search eBay or Etsy to see what they’re selling for.

      1. It appears that I’ve really lucked out on mine. A friend found my Studio 44 at a thrift store, in mint condition, for only $20 with the case. I am astounded by this. I have sixteen typewriters, and they never look this good. I’m having a little trouble getting the E and A keys to print properly. Not sure why, but it feels like they’re a little sluggish. Gotta really hit them to get the printing curious about this ball bearing system you speak of. My has a slight lag when I push the carriage across. Gunked up maybe ?

        Has anyone done a proper disassembly on one of these ? This is my first Olivetti and I’m eager to see how it works. Living in the southern US I never excepted to see one anytime soon.

        Incidentally, my serial is 498505.

  4. Good day, from South-Africa.
    I got my Studio 44 for R40 at a bootsale, and the guy had 2……why did I not take both!!?
    I think that is about 3 dollars. What a bargain…

    1. A steal indeed! One is good. Keep it simple. Hopefully, the other falls into the hands of another writer.

      I still stand by my original review.

      The Studio 44 is an under-appreciated performer! Plus, you can usually find one cheap!

  5. Hi there,
    What was the average price of this typewriter when it came out in 1965?
    Thanks in advance for your answer.

  6. I found ano Olivetti studio 44 made in spain. I am unable to research serial number to obtain the date. Any ideas?

  7. I reckon the larger carriage release lever on the right is perfectly formed like that so when you hold it between and thumb and you can release and move the carriage back and forth. The sweet little curl of the lip lets you do that – I call it a Mona Lisa touch. Whilst when I use the gloriously sensual curves of the carriage return, I think I’m holding Sophia Loren.

    1. How right you are! I pulled mine out and, indeed, the release lever on the right is formed just right for easy carriage positioning. And that big paddle on the return lever — well, blush — I have to say Jim, you’re making me reevaluate whether I should be moderating these comments. smile.

  8. My Studio 44 does not have a serial number in the place where you said it would be. Is there any other place inside it that the serial number might be at?

  9. I have a Olivetti Studio 44 sn:596276 made in Italy that I inherited from my grandfather. It is in perfect condition with suitcase, brush, cloth and plastic cover and a service sertificate from 1968. How can I find out how old it is? I checked on typewriterdatabase.com but had no luck. Please can some one help.

  10. My Olivetti Studio 44 has developed paddle problems! I do slide it forward to return it to the car and I am careful with it, but it has become loose and now rests against the hood (and I have to hold it up to return, which has made me stop using it.) I only see one screw for adjustment – that doesn’t do it. Has anyone wrestled with this before?

    1. Hello, if you are still having issues and have taken the typewriter out of rotation, I would be interested in purchasing the detachable lid cover.

  11. I have a typewriter that looks just like this but it types in a script font. Is this a different model?

  12. I have an Olivetti Underwood 21, which I understand is the same machine but with a different body. Everything about it feels tight and precise. The print quality and alignment appear perfect. Better than the Olympia SG-3, SM-9s and SM-3 I’ve had. It’s action is unlike other machines I’ve used. It seems to regulate my typing and makes up for my errors. There is less variation in the darkness of the imprint with variation in the energy I put into the keys than other machines I’ve used. I find that when make a bad key press and figure that I’ll have a light imprint for that letter, lo and behold, it’s as dark as the rest. I don’t know when I last had jammed type bars. It seems nearly impossible to do. I can’t space too fast for it to skip a space, and it doesn’t bunch letters even with very rapid typing. It makes up for my less than perfect technique better than any other machine I’ve used. I spent time messing with it trying to get a lighter touch without sacrificing performance. I succeeded to some degree. It’ll type with all it’s return springs removed (the keys just rebound off the pad where they rest in a distracting way) and touch control spring removed. I use it without the touch control spring, and I stretched the key return springs and springs that control the trip of the carriage. It’s a lighter touch than it was, and I can type rapidly on it, but it still has a firmer touch than I’d prefer. I notice it less as I type more with it, and I don’t get tired more quickly than with lighter touch machines, but each time I start typing with it, I especially notice it until I’m warmed up. I really enjoy typing with it, and because of how it feels, it unfortunately, never fully disappears from my awareness. I like the feel, it’s just always reminding me it’s there.

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