Olympia SF Deluxe (1960s)
This is the typewriter for all your writing needs. The Olympia SF Deluxe has a strong, authoritative touch, giving you the confidence to tackle any project. Olympia marketed the SF as a lightweight typewriter for personal correspondence, but make no mistake, this is a heavyweight ready to fight in your corner and take on the big boys. It has all the guts of its bigger brother, the SM9, but packed into a sleek body that doesn’t dominate your desk. If you write on a laptop, you’ll feel right at home on this typewriter with its low-profile design. Take it out whenever the mood strikes. The typeface, like all Olympias of this vintage, is bright and clear with perfect alignment, making highly readable copy. While the SF typewriter is in the ultra-portable category, don’t expect a feather in your bag, this is a heavy lug. But the brawn under the covers is worth the extra weight. On the downside is the tiring carriage shifted mechanism, which means when you hit shift, you need to lift the entire carriage, rather than the lighter type basket. But unlike the Olympia SM3-7s, which are also carriage shifted, the SF is much easier on the fingers and not as heavy. While the Olympia SM9 takes the ease-of-use prize, when Olympia finally went with basket shifting.
Worth mentioning is a comparison with the Hermes Rocket, another fine ultra-portable. The biggest functional difference, and this is big, is the line space lever, which is used to advance to the next line. On most Rockets, until early-1970s, the line space lever is a stubby little thing that’s hard to catch with your fingers. Hermes finally made this bigger on its 1970s model, but by that time, the Rocket’s shell and frame seemed to have cheapened, lacking the solid feel of earlier models. The keyboard touch on the Rocket feels lighter than the Olympia SF. While lighter can certainly seem better, it can also lead to a less convincing performance, and the Rocket lacks the authority the SF seems to possess. But for sheer portability, the Rocket is ready to go wherever you go, with its lighter frame and integrated snap-on shell, you can feel confident tossing it in the bag or the back of the camper. But if all you’re doing is stowing it under your desk or in a drawer, the Olympia SF will do just fine. And that’s where this typewriter shines, big performance in a small package. Oh yeah, one last cool feature, whenever the typebars get jumbled together, instead of picking them apart with your fingers, simply hit the margin release key, and the typebars return to their place in the basket.