I had a nice day over at Alfred's in Dietwil (some of our readers outside Switzerland might not be familiar with Dietwil, but Villa Müslischreck located there is an important centre of typewriter research). As we were typing along, Alfred noticed he needed a new passport. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
In order to cut short administrative procedures, we decided to use an original GDR passport typewriter. For your eyes only:
(technical data: see below)
This typewriter is an Erika model 70, made by VEB Robotron in Dresden, GDR. According to the list published by P. Frensel, the serial number 9981114 was produced in 1983. The E 70 series, being a "Dokumentenschreibmaschine", or document typewriter, ran, again according to P. Frensel, from 1973 to 1990, end of the GDR, end of story. The numbers given by Mr. Frensel are very precise. If I interpret his list correctly, there were two versions, one writing in italics, the other one normal letters (capitals only, as you can see from the close-up of the type-slugs above). Production of the italics version ("Schräge") ran from no. 9950000 in 1973 to 9953272 in 1990, in consecutive numbering, which would mean that only 3272 units were produced. From the other version ("normal" (print)), the numbers run from 9980000 in 1973 to 9982146 in 1973, which are 2146 units produced, adding up to a grand total of 5418 Erika 70 made. A rare bird!
The specimen shown here (# 9981114) was still in its original wrapping, and at all likelihood not used at all.
source: P. Frensel, Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen DDR-Schreibmaschinen-Produktion (einschliesslich der bis 1945 produzierten Schreibmaschinen in diesem Gebiet sowie der Produktion ab 1990), Teil II, in: Schreibmaschinen- und Bureau-Zeitung, Nr. 11, 2000.
PS: just to make sure: no passport was harmed in this performance.