The Royal Sprite is one of my favorite typewriters. Designed to look like a stereo component, it was marketed to the young and hip. Unmistakably, it is a product of the 1970s, a modern typewriter with stereophonic styling and futuristic ambitions. It’s a “fun” typer.
The Sprite is light and durable. Made of high-impact plastic, one Sprite reportedly survived a tornado — I don’t find this hard to believe, as mine was bounced around too, and it still works. That “space-age” plastic certainly does the trick.
The Sprite reportedly came in two styles: with an AM radio and without. I’ve never seen a radio Sprite, neither in the wild nor on the Internet, but a nearly identical model, called the Swinger, always appears with the radio — the radio snaps into the case’s lid. Still another identical machine, the Marksman, does not appear to have included a radio.
Update: Only the Swinger and Fleetwood included an AM radio. The Sprite, Astronaut and Marksman — otherwise identical machines — did not. This design of typewriter was also sold under the Imperial label. The Imperial Gemini touted a built-in radio like the Swinger (see Etsy listing here).
three four names for essentially the same typewriter, my impression is that Royal marketed the same machine under different names to reach a broader audience. “Sprite” is cute; “Marksman” cool; “Astronaut” is space-age; and, “Swinger,” well, enough said. Note, the Fleetwood is the same machine, but with a faux, wood-grain design.
Though a Royal, the Sprite was manufactured by Silver-Seiko in Japan (source).
I find this machine strangely appealing. Yes, it’s boxy. Yes, the color combination is odd — red nobs and blue frame. But it is entirely representative of the seventies, a decade that tried so hard to anticipate the 21st century. More often than not, the seventies overshot the goal. Nevertheless, the Sprite has aesthetic charm.
Non-radio versions of the Sprite can be had cheaply. I paid $20 (maybe less) for mine, and one lad apparently paid a buck (see here). The Swinger commands a higher price.
This set of Royals, in some sense, are the first “multi-media” devices I can number. What’s your take?
One last note, when I gave my Sprite a good cleaning, bits of eraser clung to every part of the machine. I gather this typewriter was popular among students (and revisionists).
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