Friday, July 6, 2012

Olivetti ICO "Portatile" with Lytro Camera

Hello readers (is there still anyone out there?)
here I am guilty as charged of abandoning this blog for almost a year!

It was a very busy time and I did neglect typewriting other than renewing my commitment not to get more typewriters unless it was really something special. In fact one of the reasons behind my absence (beside being genuinely busy with other stuff) was the feeling that I would have not much to write or nothing that interesting. I also hated the hassle to upload photos on picasa or other tools to add them in the blog. Add to this the fact that mobile me photo galleries have been suddenly cancelled and you get an idea of the incentives to defer my updates !

So why now ? I have just received a Lytro Camera and I thought this would be the ideal occasion to write again and share some of the features of this new camera. In the example below you can click on the olivetti logo at the top or the paper and the photo will automatically refocus.  This is what makes the lytro camera very different: the possibility to create "living pictures" that can be refocused after the fact.

It was difficult to get a camera as they ship to the U.S. only and there is a long wait for the delivery but I did manage to get one. Sharing photos with lytro is very easy so here we are. But this blog post is not much about the camera (or not only) and more about the typewriter.

As you can see from this detail it is an Olivetti Portatile ICO. From what I found on the net it should be from the 30's but I am not entirely sure (if you do know more feel free to comment !!).
On the picture above you can focus either on the logo or the welcome message

Here we have the original manual. At that time the seller telephone number had only 3 digits. From this hint I think it has to be from the 30-40's as in Imola (Italy) numbers did change after that.

Somewhen I read from the wonderful RetroTech Geneva blog that the karma on "how" you get a typewriter can make a difference (this was in an episode of Adwoa trying to buy a typewriter from a market in Geneva and the seller being completely unwilling to negotiate the price).  In this case I received the typewriter as a Birthday gift (back in March) from my dad.  This makes a lot of difference to me as the fact that he went and looked for a typewriter to add to my collection makes me like/love this typewriter very much :)

As you can see on the detail (you can again play switching from the bottom to the top view of the photo) it is in very good conditions both mechanically and cosmetically

Here it is with a pencil to try to create 2 views but it failed miserably  so it is pretty much a normal pictures - you normally need a defined background or 2 subjects to use the lytro focus switching effect fully but at least it gives you a full view of the typewriter and not just a macro now :) (you can also see the photos full screen if you click on the bottom right corner).

It has a QZERTY Italian keyboard and everything seems to be working very well ! This is perhaps a case of the owner having kept it very well throughout the years. If I look back at my collection the only thing I regret is having bought some typewriters in not so good conditions knowing that I am not very good at repairing and maintaining them.

So where is my collection going ? At the moment not very far. I did buy only 1 typewriter in 1 year BUT I do have several I did not blog about yet... so now it is up to you:

So what do you think about this typewriter and the new pictures? Would you like to see more reviews ? Let me know through  the comments. I am confident that I could post more often as taking and sharing the photos is easier and I have one excuse less to use !

Here are 2 better example on how to make special pictures with the lytro camera (flowers near my house. Taken yesterday in a rare sunny spot in the pretty rainy Swiss summer)


  1. How absolutely wonderful to see you back and posting, David!!! We have all missed you. That is a splendid ICO (so shiny!); I am casually hunting for one but no luck yet. And great story on how you acquired it :) Glad the Lytro camera makes it easy for you to post; sometimes we need all the help we can find!

    So, yes, would love to see reviews of the typewriters you haven't shown on the blog yet; I am sure you have some very nice treasures waiting to be shown off!

  2. I love the Lytro photos. They show the potential for variable depth of field. As for the typewriter, it is on the grail list for a number of Typosphere members. Tasty!

    Yes, please post more reviews or just write for fun! Even though your digital pulse has been sketchy, you still showed up in my Blogger dashboard.

    Also, last year I had been trying to find your contact information on your blog with no success. Your post on the gold Royal was hit with many spam comments. Just an FYI.

  3. Glad to have you back, David!

    The Lytro experience is completely new to me. An added "dimension" in digital pictures. Interesting.

    You can find the serial number of the ICO if you lift up the front and tilt the machine backwards. It should be stamped in red on the bottom of the frame, near the back of the typewriter. Then you can look up the year on

  4. How did I not get to meet you when I was in Zurich last month? Welcome back to blogging!

  5. Adwoa: thanks a lot for your warm welcome ! Sorry for my long silence but I am getting back to normal soon :)
    Richard: thank you for the hint and the comment
    Dwain: glad that you like the photos - I did clear the spam in the other posting thanks for letting me know
    notagain: I don't know :) but I was in York last month so perhaps it would be for the next time !!

  6. That ICO is indeed very beautiful!
    How is it to write with?
    Pros and Cons.

    You have an enviable typewriter collection!