Who is the real FLYING FISH, please stand up, please stand up......

Ladies and Gentlemen, my fellow typospherians,

Let me introduce to you the real FLYING FISH typewriters that China once produced. 

FLYING FISH as a brand name was first used on mechanical calculators.

 the tag says: 1974.12.

Under the planned/command economy that China adopted until 1978, the factory was ordered to make desktop typewriters brandnamed FLYING FISH since 1960s. Below pictured is the among the earliest productions. Please note the finger-shaped, turquoise key tops and press-button design for marginal sets, salient features of early machines.

These desktop machines came in 14' 16' and 18' carriages. According to my friend Mr. Lu,a retired typewriter repairman, they have "carriage of Remington" and "body of Underwood", a mix-breed so as to say. De-jam key is a salient feature for all FLYING FISH desktops.

It's worth mentioning that these desktops were a huge success. They quickly made their way into factories, trading firms and schools. I remember that, during my secondary school,our English exam papers were typed out on these machines using stencils.

Later models of FLYING FISH desktops use slide buttons to set margins

In late 1970s, the Shanghai Mechanical Calculator Factory began to develop and produce portable machines, thus came the Model PSQs. As I've already done an elaborate post on PSQs and Hero typewriters , please refer to my previous post if interested.

In early 1980s, the typewriter business was branched out from Shanghai Mechanical Calculator Factory. As China's first typewriter factory, the newly found typewriter factory was named Shanghai Typewriter Factory, PSQs were rebranded as HERO typewriters, Model 110 its first official model.

A couple of years later, the FLYING FISH brand was used to name the Factory's new model 200 ( below as pictured), which is clearly a copycat of TIPPA ADLER's 70s model . It came in white and cream, and, without exception, have an ugly variation of PICA fonts, never seen in typewriters made in other countries. When exported, they were rebranded as KOFA-200. (FYI, Hero's Model 110 was named KOFA-100 for export)

Meanwhile, a new Shanghai No.2 Typewriter Factory was established to produce HERO manual and electronic typewriters (started in mid-1990s). In late 1990s,however, private money were invested in the Factory, forming the new Hero Typewriter Factory, a private-public partnership.  This was encouraged by government's policy to privatize state-owned companies, something China learned from Magaret Thatcher.

Sadly, during the state-to-private ownership transition, lots of previously state-owned assets were snapped up and pocketed by business executives of newly established public-private companies. New manifestations of corruption began to emerge in China and in such a large scale never seen before. Even worse, they were all done legally. Authorities didn't realize until many years later.

the Model 201, with REPEAT SPACER

In 1992,1993, Shanghai Typewriter Factory seemed to get bored with the Model 200,and launched the Model 88TRs onto the market. As you can see, the new model is apparently a Japan's Silver Reed copycat. It came with all features of Silver Reeds, including personal touch control adjuster, repeat spacer and pre-set five-space TAB key.  Meanwhile, the production of Model 200 continued.

Model 400, a variation of Model 88TR

pictured below is another variation of Model 88TR, Model 260. Geez, I have no idea about how they are different from 400s and 88TRs,

In mid-late 1990s and onwards, Shanghai Typewriter Factory launched models Freda, 200-B and 890. Nothing new! Only different cases and color arrangements for its old TIPPA-ish designs.
Model Freda

Model 200-B

For a long time, Shanghai is the only place in China that typewriters were made. But as the city started to re-position itself as a service center, manufacturing began to span over municipal boundaries and later further to neighboring provinces.

There are two other less-heard-of companies producing typewriters with exact same design as FLYING FISH.  They are--

The FLYING PIGEONS, from Jiangsu Province

and the Hua Xiang Typewriter  (meaning: CHINA FLYING) from Zhejiang Province.

Note: The X-shaped Great Wall is the emblem of 11th Asia Games held in Beijing in 1990. This is the very first International sports event that China held. The Huaxiang typewriter was recommended as OFFICIAL TYPEWRITER for the Game. 

Huaxiang with REPEAT SPACER and  TAB

----THE END-----

Hope you guys enjoy!


Japanese/English/numerical signs all rolled into one

Just convinced the dealer to show me some type sample of this typewriter. Enjoy my friends.

At last.....i finally see a made-in-China typewriter that is not PICA/ELITE.


Bits and Ends of Typewriter in China

As I said in one of my previous posts, Hero typewriter(Flyiing Fish PSQ as it was formerly named)  has German blood. It is basically a Tippa Adler copycat. China kicked off its own typewriter industry by emulating a TA's 1950 model, so widely popular in the world yet cheap at that time. The Germans helped China, by offering equipment and technology, in the country's economic take-off in late 1970s and early 1980s. China returned Germany's favor by offering a big slice of her market, even today (and infringing upon German IP rights)

Allow me to digress a bit. Another German "Made it in China!" story is Volkswagen. In early 1980s, VW reluctantly took up only 10% share in a joint venture business with its local partner,Shanghai automobile company, a percentage so low that VW in 2003 regretted. The company was very reluctant to invest back then mainly out of suspicion toward communism.

VW offered technology, equipment and managerial expertise, in the production of Santana sedan cars, an already outdated but hugely successful model in the S. American market. The VW's Shanghai branch, with the city's signature business acumen, hard work, and not without preferential policies from the government, responded the German suspicion by taking up a whopping 60% of market share in China, and remained so till mid 1990s. Imagine throughout the entire 1990s, 99% of sedan cars ran on Shanghai roads are VW.  During the same period, Nissan/Toyota combined took up 10% of the market.

German and German technology are highly esteemed here in China. Wherever you go, you will hear Chinese sing high praise for Germans' rigidity,precision craftsmanship and dedication to work. Growing up in such culture, I'm sure one another German fan. Ich libe Deutsche technologie!

On the other hand, the U.S. impressed Chinese, me included, with her innovative capabilities, as evidenced by endlessly emerging new functions in U.S. made typewriters.

Fortunately, I've visited/paid my homage to both countries and figured out that my love for both are not without a good reason. I was once so touched by a whole bus of total strangers,all US folks, hooraying and clapping hands for me as I finally boarded the bus that I chased for 10 min in Las Vegas. The bus driver also kindly slowed down for me. (The reason I ran in the first place is because buses in most U.S. cities are at 30 min intervals, in Shanghai it is 10 min at most. :-P) What a warm people!

Richard Polt once asked for my opinion about the Made-in-China typewriters, I have to say that they're not desirable. Perhaps the early batches are fine. According to very limited typewriter-related archives, China exported 40% of the typewriters it once produced. But as orders from overseas market shrank, investors were so anxious to take back their money and turned to the domestic market since mid-1990s,that's when quality suffer. Good quality machines are with a mission: earn money from foreigners' pocket! That's why China could afford 1.3 trillion dollars of US T-bond as of Dec. 20, 2013.

As for typewriter related innovation, China doesn't have much to offer, as it once positioned itself in the labor-intensive,low-end spectrum of the manufacturing sector. And when the country started its typewriter industry, the whole industry was already rapidly dying out. That's why former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao once remarked, China has missed out an entire typewriter era, we couldn't afford to lose the opportunities in the computer era. The IBM laptops are manufactured in China since 2006.

Meanwhile, I'd like to ask for a favor, what do you guys think of my English? 1) does it sound natural to native-speakers? 2) Does it sound more British or American?

The following are some typewriter-related bits and ends. 

Hereby, I wish all my friends Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

The original invoice of Beijing Typewriter Shop for Flying Fish Model PSQ, which indicates that the machine cost RMB 195 on Nov. 17th, 1985.  It looks a lot pink-er actually. These unified invoices are issued by business and industrial administrators.  Today, they must be printed instead of handwritten. 

the original TEST CERTIFICATE 

I have a question: what kind of PICA font is this?

A small booklet detailing all the addresses of typewriter shops/repair shops in major Chinese cities. 

The warranty slip that goes with the invoice