It has been awhile, fellow typists! I hope that all of you in the Typosphere have been weathering the global pandemic of COVID-19 as well as you can, staying healthy and safe. It has been a busy time for me, and as such I have spent precious little time writing or mucking about with typewriters. In fact, this very unusual entry has been in the works since last Fall!
And it’s not even really a typewriter, so I hope you will indulge me this one time!
Olivetti M10 Laptop Computer
I hope this isn’t blasphemy, featuring a computer on a typewriter blog – but my interest in typewriters has first and foremost always been in using them as a writing implement. And that’s why I got this! Released in 1983, this little Olivetti is based on a portable computer platform from Kyocera, which was also used by other manufacturers, the most popular being the Tandy Model 100. The reason I wanted the M10 was because it featured a tilting screen, and also it has a better keyboard than the Tandy, which is much easier to find.
Not exactly a “typecast,” but here is what I wrote for this entry, on the M10 [S/N:31050938, for those that like this kind of thing]:
Not a typewriter, I know. Not even a word processor – an honest to gosh computer! But while this little Italian take on what is better know on these shores as the Tandy Model 100 has BASIC programming ability, and a telecom program that leverages its internal modem, it really hits its stride as a portable electronic word processor, available at a time when “portable” meant you were lugging around a 40 pound computer with a 5-inch cathode ray tube monitor.
I love this little machine, and prefer it to the Tandy for a couple of reasons. First, I love the keyboard. Typing on this old laptop is a joy. It is a little mushier than I normally like (the Tandy is no better), but I just like it. Its edge is the tilting LCD screen. While it is low resolution, and is not backlit (thus not legible in a dark room), the tilting function just really makes it far more pleasant for a writing session than its Tandy counterparts, in my opinion.
The M10 came with 8k RAM standard. This particular one has, I think, 24k RAM. You can see the expansion chips installed in one of the pictures. There is an empty spot for an “Option ROM,” which I assume was a way to install (and sell) additional software. I have not found anything for the Olivetti M10, however (it is not fully compatible with the Tandy or NEC models, which are more common).
Another big win for this device: It runs on 4 AA batteries! I run mine on rechargeables, and they last quite a few hours. In fact, this unit sat for a few years without any batteries in it, and the internal battery kept the contents in memory! I was shocked, too. (And I should probably replace that internal battery, probably soldered onto the circuit board, before it leaks all over the internals of this machine and ruin it.)
The Tandy Model 100 has a big following, and active user-base who make software, and new hardware, for their machines. While this Olivetti is sort of like a distant cousin, it can still take advantage of some of those offerings. Plus, it looks much cooler than a Tandy!
I use it to write, not to run software. Getting my writing off the M10 is relatively easy – the serial port can be used with a Null Modem cable and a serial-to-USB converter to connect to a modern computer. There are a number of software packages that can be used to transfer files back and forth, or you can even use a terminal program – what we old timers used to use in the pre-broadband days to get our computers to call other computers over the phone lines).
Getting writing off the M10 is an important task, because with only a few kilobytes of memory, you can fill up its internal memory relatively easily. It’s plenty to keep the day’s writing, or maybe the week’s, but it’s not suitable for document storage.
The only really odd thing about typing on the M10 is the placement of the backspace key – it is almost next to the space bar, not in the upper-right area of the keyboard. Aside from that, this is a great typing device.
And the bonus is that you can also do some BASIC programming using this device, or even play some games on the M10! Overall, this is a lovely bit of engineering, and it is a nice writing tool as well.
Evil Twin & Westbrook’s Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break
In the world of craft brewing there is a real sense of community. Coming out of this, brewers from different breweries frequently team up with their peers from other breweries to collaborate on brewing special recipies – called “collabs” for short. In this case, Evil Twin Brewing from Brooklyn, New York, and Westbrook Brewing from South Carolina, have come together to make a very big beer!
As you can probably guess from the inclusion of “cake” in the name, this is something of a dessert beer. It’s an imperial stout, making it a very big beer, as evidenced by its 10.5% alcohol level! So if you get a chance to try this, remember to sip it!
This one is complex in its blending of flavours – lots of sweetness, as is common with imperial stouts, with flavours of chocolate, coffee and vanilla apparent. But things get more interesting with the addition of habanero peppers. Now we know where the “Mexican” portion of the name comes from!
It’s a thick, full bodied beer. It’s heavy and strong, and I found it absolutely delicious! However, for drinkers of refreshing, light lagers, well, this isn’t for them. There is also a version of this which is aged in former bourbon barrels, which I wish I could try. If anyone from the LCBO (the liquor control board of Ontario) is reading this – please, get on that.
Thanks for reading – next time we’ll get back to old fashioned typewriters, I promise! 🙂