Type design for typewriters: Olivetti

María Ramos


The history of the typewriter has been covered by writers and researchers. However, the interest shown in the origin of the machine has not revealed a further interest in one of the true reasons of its existence, the printed letters. The following pages try to bring some light on this part of the history of type design, typewriter typefaces. The research focused on a particular company, Olivetti, one of the most important typewriter manufacturers. The first two sections describe the context for the main topic. These introductory pages explain briefly the history of the typewriter and highlight the particular facts that led Olivetti on its way to success. The next section, ‘Typewriters and text composition’, creates a link between the historical background and the machine. It shows the typewriter as a subsidiary cause of social changes and new habits in typography. The core contents of this research are included in the last two sections. They offer a description of the type design process in Olivetti, a comparison between typefaces, and some examples of the influence of the typewriter in digital type. Due to the large number of typefaces included in this dissertation, there is no room for an exhaustive analysis of the lettershapes. Instead, this paper provides an overview of type design in the 20th century for a specific product, typewriters.

Available on Academia.edu