Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A week of reviews (Part Six)- Optima Elite (Plus: Comparison to Olympia Elite)

Probably the first difference you'll notice between these machines, especially while opening up the ribbon guard, is that the Optima is made of much thinner metal than the Olympia..

Another discrepancy you will see is the immense amount of tarnishing on just about every bit of 'chrome' on the Optima. This leads me to believe it was made of nickel or some other, cheaper, metal. It is quite evident here on the segment. Also, the ribbon guide is a bit different.

And here, on the rear of the machines. Also, notice that the margin rail on the Optima is just painted black, while the Olympia is of chrome, and also has a scale imprinted on it. Unfortunately, even the awesome rear paper holder of the Optima is a victim of tarnishing. Another interesting thing to note are the margin stops themselves. While they are quite intact on the Olympia, the left margin of the Optima is a bit shoddy. The bit that clamps to the rail and the bit that catches for the margin are two separate pieces, and have become somewhat loose throughout the years, making the left margin of this Optima a bit mushy. Nothing a bit of superglue and a clamp can't mend, I'm sure, but even still...

Here, you can see the line space lever, along with the platen gear lever, of both machines. Notice the ball on the levers of the Optima (top) are made from (what I believe to be) Bakelite, while the Olympia are metal and chromed. The same is true for the feed release on the right side of the carriage.

And the same applies to the line release. Notice the knob is broken in half on the Optima. Also, it does not function.

I have only noticed once actual mechanical difference between the two machines. Here, we see underneath the left side of the Optima's carriage, near the mainspring.

And here is the same location on the Olympia. As you can see, it has an additional eyelet with a spring attached to it. This attaches to the backspace mechanism, pulling it forward slightly faster. However, in testing, the backspace of both machines seem to function at the same speed.

However, there is another additional eyelet on the opposite side of the carriage and backspace on the Olympia. While mine is missing its spring, this would pull the backspace back a bit quicker.


  1. What a great typewriter! I especially like its lines and the army green color, and the typeface is truly excellent.

    The comparison of the Optima and the Olympia makes this post all-the-more fascinating! There are interesting similarities and differences, for sure.

    Great score on this one, Ken!

  2. I very much enjoyed reading this report.

  3. Congratulations on the Optima! I like the unique green color and that it is quite a bit like the Olympia, but different. Your post is really good. I've enjoyed it.

  4. I'm double-jealous of these, and I love comparison posts.
    This really adds to our knowledge.

  5. Excellent post; I enjoyed the point for point comparison. Your lighting seems fine to me! This article was a welcome break between articles I'm writing for work!

  6. Thanks for this comparison. I've never gotten a chance to try an early Optima like this, just some later descendents (which are fine but not up to West German Olympia standards).

  7. Very studious and scholarly review with the subjective mixed in - perfectly well balanced. Well done! Fabulous post!

  8. @Cameron- Thanks a bunch! It is a very nice typewriter, and I am very glad that I was finally able to compare the two companies.

    @Georg- Well, thank you!

    @Bill- I, too, like the color. A bit different from the norm and a very nice shade, at that.

    @Peter- I am glad to be of service!

    @Will- Yes, the pictures turned out much better than I had expected. Thankfully, now I can take typewriter pictures even when it is dark or raining out. Score!

    @Richard- I am looking forward to trying out some later model Optima's, as well. This one seemed to be quite the same, aside from the cheaper materials. Of course, the Olympia is nicer!

    @Michael- Thanks so much! I was looking forward to putting the two of these machines to the test the second I saw the Optima came up on eBay. Was a whole bunch of fun going through them, I tell you what.