Saturday, July 7, 2012

Groma Kolibri Typewriter in Downtown Zürich River with Lytro Camera

Blurry? Click on the paper to see it crips :)

First of all a big thank you to Adwoa, Richard, Dwayne and every for the comments. I didn't expect such a quick reaction so obviously it did motivate me to write more :)

One of the amusing factors to having too many typewriters is that sometimes you even forget what you have. Today I was looking for a Kolibri for an excursion to a river in downtown Zürich very close to my house.  This is one of my favorite spots: while being in the center there is still a lot of green and a river (the Sihl). But this is not just on the main river but a smallish one slightly hidden.

In terms of routine and timing Zürich is very Swiss.  On a Saturday at 7 PM only a few department stores are opened and the center of the city starts to get empty so I had still some good light yet not a huge crown at the river.

I had two candidates (actually three that suggests that I have way too many Kolibri. Actually the other two are "brilliant" a Kolibri clone sold in a German department store but all in all the same as Kolibri) but the blue brilliant has some issue that I could not yet solve so it would be for another posting.

To carry my little friend I used a freitag bag that is one of the few made in Zürich products: a bag made from recycled truck tarps.  I do have the kolibri original case somewhere but I thought the freitag would be more suitable for this transport:

On the photo below you can focus on the water behind or the bag. One of the issues with the lytro camera its hat you have to think in 3D. If you think in the normal camera 2D way you will get just normal photos that would not make it worth to use this camera as the resolution wouldn't be even as good as an iPhone HD camera:

Same here you should be able to switch between the water and the bag

And here it is: a brown-creme groma kolibri. It is possibly the smallest typewriter I have seen but still pretty heavy ! (do you know any smaller portable typewriter ? I do have a Rooy but it seems somehow bigger to transport to me ?)

in these two pictures it is easier to switch between the water and the typewriter
how do you like her ?

this photo is more mono dimensional so not many special effect but it gives you an idea of the surrounding

here you play a bit more with the water and other angles

and this is one of the best to demonstrate the interesting views/ uses of the lytro camera. the text seems blurry but you can focus on it or the water behind

Another angle where you can switch between the water and the typewriter

Here a bit more obvious where the text becomes more readable

Among the kolibri's I have this is the one in the best shape I think and not just esthetically but also for the writing that is very smooth. The other two I have here (and I might have some more hidden) have some technical issues and liquid bearings did not really help that much - but this one has an imperfection too: the E, R and S did lose some of their write coloring  but I can live with that !

Another angle to see a bit more of the river that has fishes and ducks too !

So was this kolibri really portable ? Yes and no. It was okay to walk nearby my house with it but I don't know if it would be very practical for a long trip. This said laptops of 3-4 years ago were probably heavier so may be I would.  I wonder how interesting it would be to make a similar typewriter today: perhaps using titanium or a light metal.  Given that in China they clone pretty much everything this could be interesting to try out but not sure on how difficult it would be. Still a typewriter of this size in Titanium would be so light that it would become a pleasure to carry.  Perhaps thou Chinese or Indian factories are not that keen on a product that is almost extinct but hey who knows ?

I plan to take this typewriter to Italy this summer but I have other candidates too!

Obviously my litter adventure is nothing compared to the other creative collectors that did carry typewriters on the plan and on a bike but I hope that you enjoyed this posting with photos in a different surrounding.

I welcome your comments about other ultra portable typewriters and anything you would like to share.


  1. Enjoyable pictures! I love Kolibris and at one point had 8 or 9 of them. They are fairly heavy for their size, it's true. The Rooy is considerably lighter but also less nice to type on, and quite loud because it has that resonating base.

    I think a shoulder strap helps a lot with these little portable typewriters, but they all came in cases that were meant to be carried with the hand, just as old suitcases have handles but no wheels.

  2. Thanks for the lytro camera shots! it was loads of fun playing with the focus with just a click of the mouse.

    I have this same Kolibri, acquired just earlier this week!

    How'd you get your carriage return lever to stay above the ribbon cover?
    i noticed your typewriter doesnt have the typical ribbon cover scrapes due to that lever

  3. I had to check the photos again - man, i am seriously considering this lytro...

    but maybe they upgrade soon?

    love your photos!

  4. If the Lytro was really available in Switzerland, I would have had one for months, I'm sure. If only.