Monday, July 9, 2007

The Underwood No. 5 typewriter

The Underwood No. 5 typewriting machine embodies the spirit of Good Old-Fashioned in that it's not just an old thing, it's a very well-made and successful old thing. An old thing that helped define what it means to be a successful product.

From the website:
When most people think "old typewriter," they picture something much like the Underwood No. 5. Why? Because this is the most successful typewriter design in history. Appearing shortly before 1900, the Underwood established the stereotype of a typewriter until the introduction of the IBM Selectric in 1961. When the Underwood was first introduced, it was only one of hundreds of competing and extremely varied typewriter designs. But by 1920, almost every typewriter imitated the Underwood.

The interesting thing is that the No. 5 was not superior in all ways to other typewriters, but it hit that sweet spot of key features, standards adherence, and technical innovation that led it to dominate and define it's industry.

Think of it as the Ipod of typewriters. The Ipod doesn't have all of the features of some of the earliest portable digital music players, but it hit the sweet spot and owns the lion's share of the industry.

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