sexta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2012

Triumph - Company History

As you all know, or at least suspect, I'm a big fan of Triumph's typewriters. Lately I've read a lot about this company history and I've found an article that I'd like to share with you.

Key Dates:
1896: Deutsche Triumph Fahrradwerke AG is founded in Nuremberg.
1909: Triumph starts manufacturing typewriters.
1953: Triumph is taken over by Max Grundig, merged with Adlerwerke, and renamed Triumph-Adler.
1968: Litton Industries Inc. becomes the company's new majority shareholder.
1979: Triumph-Adler is acquired by Volkswagen AG.
1985: The company is renamed TA Triumph-Adler AG.
1986: Italian Olivetti group takes over the company.
1994: Olivetti sells to a group of German investors; Triumph-Adler becomes a management holding company.
1997: The typewriter production in Frankfurt/Main is closed down.

Company History:
TA Triumph-Adler AG is Germany's leading supplier of distribution services for printing, copying and presentation equipment.

Making Bicycles, Motorcycles, and Typewriters: 1896-1913

At the turn of the 19th century the world was swept by a flood of technical innovations that paved the way for industrialization. One of them was the bicycle. In the 1890s the new vehicle took the public by storm. The predecessor of the modern bicycle--the Velocipede--was equipped with a giant front wheel and proved suitable only for acrobats. In 1884, however, two Englishmen invented a version with much smaller wheels which became increasingly popular. At about the same time two German entrepreneurs--Siegfried Bettmann and M. Schulte--founded a bicycle firm in Coventry, England, the Triumph Cycle Company Ltd. In July 1896 they established a subsidiary in Nuremberg, Germany--the Deutsche Triumph Fahrradwerke AG.
In 1909 Deutsche Triumph ventured into another new field when they took over the production of a bankrupt typewriter manufacturer in Nuremberg. The Norica typewriter became the company's second key product, and in 1911 Deutsche Triumph was renamed Triumph-Werke Nürnberg AG. Two years later Triumph-Werke became independent from its English parent company.

Surviving Two World Wars
During World War I, from 1914 until 1919, Triumph-Werke made supplies crucial for the war: beds and tables for field hospitals, fuses, and ammunition. After the war the company resumed the production of motorcycles and launched Knirps--the first German motorcycle with a two-stroke engine. The popularity of motorcycles grew during the 1920s, bolstering Triumph-Werke sales. I
In 1920 Triumph-Werke also started making typewriters again, continuing with the prewar model Triumph 2. In 1925 the company received an order for 600 typewriters from the telegraph service division of the German post office, the Deutsche Reichspost. Three years later a Triumph typewriter was shipped to the Vatican, and the company received an endorsement from the pope himself. Triumph's typewriters were continuously improved throughout the 1920s. In 1928 the company introduced three smaller typewriter models: Durabel, Norm 6, and Perfect. In the mid-1930s Triumph-Werke erected a brand-new building for large-series production of its standard typewriter. In addition, the company extended its product range in the office equipment sector and started making adding machines. By 1938 Triumph-Werke employed about 1,800 people and was grossing 15 million Reichsmark annually.

In 1939 Germany went to war again, and the country's economy was administered by the National Socialist government. Triumph-Werke's mainstay during this time was its BD 250 motorcycle, which the German army ordered by the thousands. By 1940 the production of typewriters for civilian use was restricted and ceased completely at the end of 1942.

World War II left the company's offices and production facilities mostly untouched. Triumph-Werke then received a production permit and started making typewriters, bicycles and bicycle trailers, wheelbarrows, and hand-drawn carts. In 1948 the company also resumed the manufacture of motorcycles and in 1953 launched a new line of mopeds and motor scooters. The mid-1950s also saw a new Triumph typewriter, called the Matura, equipped with a patented carriage return mechanism.

Losing Ground and Independence: 1956-93

In 1953, the takeover of Triumph-Werke by German entrepreneur Max Grundig, whose core business was in consumer electronics, ended the company's independence. Grundig reorganized the company to focus on office machines and shut down the vehicle production. Research and development (R&D) efforts were directed towards better electric typewriters which were becoming increasingly popular for their more comfortable features. With electronic data processing on the rise, Triumph-Werke introduced a telex-type tape punch in 1956. Triumph's new Family Typewriter--a name inspired by Grundig's granddaughter Gabriele--followed a year later. Another novelty--the F3 automated invoicing machine, equipped with a connector for card punches--marked the beginning of the office computer era. The company's new electric typewriter Electric 20 became its standard model of the 1960s. It was used by the world typing champion in Vienna in 1961, who scored 647 strokes per minute, setting a new world record.

In 1957 Triumph-Werke acquired a minority share in Frankfurt/Main-based typewriter manufacturer Adler. Combined, the two companies controlled over 50 percent of the German market for typewriters. By 1968 Triumph-Werke had an 82 percent stake in Adler, and the latter was merged with Triumph and the company renamed Triumph-Adler. Just around the time that the integration of the two companies was completed, Grundig sold Triumph-Adler to Beverly Hills-based Litton Industries Inc.

Backed by the new parent company, Triumph-Adler set out to conquer the growing market for microcomputers. In 1969 the company introduced the new TA 100 computer series. Triumph-Adler's microcomputer division--including R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution--was based at headquarters in Nuremberg. In 1971 the company launched the TA 10, which dubbed "the people's computer." It was the size of a suitcase and offered at a competitive price. Only two years later Triumph-Adler had sold over 10,000 of the computers. Still, typewriters accounted for more than 60 percent of the company's total sales. In 1977 Triumph-Adler acquired the U.S.-based Royal Group, using used the company's production plants and distribution network to enter the American market. Ten years after the Litton takeover, Triumph-Adler's sales had grown ten-fold. The company's professional microcomputers had a 19 percent market share in Germany, a share larger than that of any other competitor.

In March 1979 German auto maker Volkswagen AG bought 55 percent of Triumph-Adler's share capital, acquiring another 43 percent from Litton and German Diehl GmbH in 1980. The company, which by 1980 had over 17,000 employees on its payroll, was renamed Triumph-Adler AG für Büro- und Informationstechnik. That year marked the beginning of a challenging era for Triumph-Adler, as the company reported a loss of DM 50 million. In the following years, top management focused on downsizing and restructuring. The company's workforce was cut in half and distribution was extended to include department stores. None of these measures, however, stopped the company from falling behind the competition. By 1986 Triumph-Adler was only number five in the German market for professional microcomputers, with its market share having shrunk to 6.4 percent. In that year, Volkswagen sold most of its holdings in Triumph-Adler to the Italian Olivetti group, one of the company's main European competitors.

The new parent, however, was not able to rescue the company from its downfall, caused by the increasingly popular IBM personal computers which rapidly replaced the older microcomputer technology. By 1988 the number of employees as well as the company's revenues had shrunk to less than half the figures of 1984. Only the company's typewriter division turned up a profit.
In the early 1990s Triumph-Adler became Olivetti's headquarters for office machines and an original equipment manufacturer for other computer makers. In 1991 the company launched a self-developed laptop computer. However, the rapidly declining prices for computer hardware components and the development cost for the new TA portable computer pushed the company heavily into the red. Moreover, parent company Olivetti was struggling too, cutting down on orders for Triumph-Adler by one-third. All of the company's production facilities in Nuremberg, Fürth, and Schwandorf were shut down while production was moved out of the country. Most of the company's assets, such as real estate and machinery, were sold to cover some of the DM 160 million in losses that Olivetti incurred in 1992 alone.

By 1993 Triumph-Adler had shrunk to a quarter of its former size. It was, in fact, left only with the typewriter production business in Frankfurt/Main. In that year Olivetti decided to rid itself of the loss-making enterprise and canceled the agreement with Triumph-Adler that had guaranteed that the Italian parent would be responsible for making up Triumph-Adler's losses. Olivetti then integrated Triumph-Adler's office machine distribution subsidiary, Triumph-Adler Vertriebs GmbH, into its own business.

New Beginning as a Management Holding in 1994

Equipped with several hundred million in cash from outstanding Olivetti payments, the new Triumph-Adler holding company went on a shopping spree. In addition to the already existing holding for office related products, Triumph-Adler acquired a broad variety of companies, from toy manufacturers to health related products, and organized them into four major business divisions: TA Office, TA Toys & Leisure, TA Health and TA BauTech. The latter included a number of manufacturers and service providers in the construction industry.
In 1997 Triumph-Adler closed down its typewriter plant in Frankfurt/Main. In the mid-1990s the market for typewriters had shrunk drastically, by about 30 percent in 1996 alone. Personal computers had won the race against the more limited capabilities of the typewriter. Although in 2001 the company still sold Triumph-Adler typewriters worth EUR 12.7 million, the business was not profitable anymore.

I want to thanks to and for the text and also and for the pictures.

quinta-feira, 23 de fevereiro de 2012

Downton Abbey

For some time now I've been following this British series and I've just remembered this special episode and thought it would be interesting to share it with you.

This series pictures the daily life of a British aristocrat family and their servants in the beginning of the last century. What makes this episode so special is a typewriter's apparition. It's an Empire, Canadian production, and nothing more than a re-branded Wellington just like their European sibiling, the Adler 7.

In a short way, one of the girls was taking a typing course by mail because she dreamed of leaving the service as maid and start a career as secretary. But her co-workers found the machine and as they didn't know what it was and what was its purpose they've exposed her to the butler.  Strange mentalities back then... Like typing could be a danger activity or ambitioning for a better job could be something wrong!

It's a very interesting show to watch with very good performances, that pictures with perfection the pre WW1 daily live as their habits and mentality.

terça-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2012


By some reason I haven't found yet the bell is not ringing on the Brother and i think I've ruined it during the cleaning :( I do apologize for some miss separated words...

quarta-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2012

A New York Story: Gramercy Typewriter Co.

A few day ago I've received an email from Matthew Walker, he came across my blog and asked me if I'd mind publishing a short film he made. Obviously it was related to typewriters :)

By his own words and I quote "I came across your blog recently and really enjoy it - we seem to share the same affinity and nostalgia for older technologies. I wanted to reach out about a little film I made about one of the last sales and service typewriter businesses in New York City - Gramercy Typewriter Company who is owned and operated by Paul Schweitzer. I thought perhaps you and your readers might enjoy it - please feel free to post it to your site if your deem fit."

I don't know if you ever came across this film or if you know Matthew. I confess that I felt very honored by this invitation... So I proudly present you a typewriter short film by Matthew Walker and the link to its web page.

Take this opportunity to express my gratitude and respect for all those who allow that typewriters are as vivid today as before, and who devote their lives and dedicate their jobs in repairing and improving these magnificent machines.

terça-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2012


My sweet Valentine!

Happy V-day to you all! And what better way to celebrate it that with some old adds from Olivetti's Valentine...

segunda-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2012

IATM Postcards

And they're finally done :) The ones in the picture are just the samples. I still have to cut and finish them but I'm counting on put them in the mail tomorrow :)

domingo, 12 de fevereiro de 2012


Consul 212

Today it is sad day for me. I'm going to share with you the story of the typewriter that got wrecked during transportation.

The Consul... It had been packed since Christmas, until I've finally found the time to take care of it. And it has proved to be a disappointment. This has been a machine I've wanted really bad and now all I have a bad machine... Not the model it self but this special unit...

The typewriter arrived poorly packed and fill in dirt. It has no caring case and it came all the way from Germany in a  large card box, being kicked around... And with a hairy mess inside I can not find the words to describe it. In the auction photos the typewriter seemed to be in need of a good cleaning but I could not see that coming. I've checked carefully the photos and the typewriter was just OK. Plus the seller told me it was working perfectly so I've thought I've done a great deal. Damn DHL...

When I've taken it out of the box I've noticed that it had suffered a big bump in the back side and it was dented. The margins tabulators were jammed so I've tried to straiten up the rear metal sheet. After a few hours of struggle I've finally straiten it up an managed to put the margins tabulators to work but the paint cracked... Then I've realized that the shift lock had also been broken during the transportation... And  my mood was just ruined! But thought that if it  types good I can live with that...

I cleaned it thoroughly, installed a new ribbon and got a sheet of paper to finally start testing the typewriter. And then my world came tumbling down... I've just bought a piece of crap... An international 10€ plus shipping cost piece of crap... The shipping has just destroyed a perfectly good typewriter.

The body is all in metal, the weight is just right and it's a stable machine. The mechanism is very spartan and simple but I believe that's a good thing. The carriage is perfect. One of best I've tried so far. But the key board... Seems it was hit by a herd of wildebeests. It's in cheap plastic but the keys give back a good kick so it's a pity the material they chosen is so bad. And that I've a typewriter in such bad state.

And now I'm going to start pointing out all the flaws I've spotted but I may be overreacting.

- The "I" is so far down bellow
- The "A" jams. And sometimes skips a space.
- The bell rings so low that most of the times a don't hear it.
- The shift mechanism isn't working properly. The capital letters don't get aligned with the rest of the text.

But it's a gorgeous machine and I really want one that works properly. I guess I can live with it, but it's such a disappointment when you really want a machine and when you've finally found it's not in pristine conditions. I've been very lucky with the one I've bought... So tomorrow I'm going to grab a pliers a fix the damn machine!