Royal Typewriter Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Royal Typewriter Company
TypePrivate company
FounderEdward B. Hess[2]
ProductsSee Typewriters section

The Royal Typewriter Company is a manufacturer of typewriters founded in January 1904.[3] It was headquartered in New York City with its factory in Hartford, Connecticut.


The Royal Typewriter Company was founded by Edward B. Hess and Lewis C. Myers in January 1904 in a machine shop in Brooklyn, New York.[3] The next year, Hess and Myers turned to Thomas Fortune Ryan, to whom they demonstrated a prototype typewriter. Their machine had numerous innovations including a friction-free, ball-bearing, one-track rail to support the weight of the carriage, a new paper feed, a lighter and faster typebar action, and complete visibility of the words as they are typed. Ryan put up $220,000 in exchange for financial control.

In March 1906 the first Royal typewriter, the Royal Standard, was sold. The Royal Standard was set apart from its competition by its 'flatbed' design.

With demand increasing, Royal purchased 5¼ acres in Hartford, Connecticut, as the new site for its manufacturing facility. Original plans called for the Royal Typewriter Company Building to have a floor capacity of 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2) and cost $350,000 to build. In 1908, Royal began manufacturing there and in time, Royal and cross town competitor, Underwood Typewriter Company, would make Hartford the “Typewriter Capitol of the World”.

In 1911, Royal introduced the Royal 5 typewriter, which also utilized the "flatbed" design.

Royal's first model utilizing the "upright" design was the Royal 10, which came out in 1914. Original models had two beveled glass panes on each side.

In 1926 Royal introduced the "Roytype" brand name for its line of typewriter ribbons and carbon paper.

In order to promote the new portable Royal president G. E. Smith secured the exclusive sponsorship of the September 23, 1926, Dempsey–Tunney championship fight for $35,000.[4] This boxing match was the first nationwide radio hook-up.

"The Daily News" of New York estimated that 20 million fans from coast to coast listened to the broadcast.

Royal's introduction of its portable line of typewriters was an immediate success and launched the company to become the world's #1 selling typewriter brand.

On October 9, 1926, the "Hartford Daily Courant" reported that Royal had just produced its one millionth typewriter.

To promote the ruggedness of its typewriters, George Edward Smith, president of Royal, bought a Ford-Stout tri-motor airplane in August 1927. This plane, commonly called the Royal Airtruck, dropped over 200 typewriters in crates with parachutes to dealers over the eastern seaboard of the USA on its maiden flight. Royal eventually delivered over 11,000 typewriters this way with only ten being damaged.

In January 1941, Edward B. Hess, one of Royal's founders and vice presidents, died in Orlando, Florida. Hess was a prolific inventor and held over 140 patents relating to the typewriter.

World War II brought tremendous change to Royal. In order to aid the war effort, Royal converted its manufacturing to war work exclusively. Royal manufactured machine guns, rifles, bullets, propellers, and spare parts for airplane engines. It wouldn't be until September 1945 that Royal started typewriter production full-time again and not until December 1948 that it caught up on its pre-war backlog.

In 1947, Royal produced, in limited quantity, a gold-plated version of its popular Quiet Deluxe model. Ian Fleming, the British novelist who wrote the James Bond novels, used one. Many other writers, including Ernest Hemingway, used a Royal typewriter.

Other typewriter manufacturers utilized Royal's innovations in their typewriters. In 1947, Royal won patent suits against Remington and LC Smith Corona.

In February 1950, Royal introduced its first electric typewriter.

Lewis C. Myers, the surviving founder of the Royal Typewriter Company, died in Freeport, New York at the age of 84.

Worldwide demand caused Royal to open a new factory in Leiden, the Netherlands, to produce typewriters in 1953.

In April 1954, the Royal typewriter Company announced its plan to merge with McBee, a leading manufacturer of accounting and statistical machines and supplies. By July, Royal stockholders had approved the plan and Royal McBee was formed.

From 1954 to 1964 sales soared from $84.7 million to over $113 million. Royal McBee was consistently listed as a Fortune 500 company.

A Royal FP typewriter used for many years by Pulitzer Prize-winner Herb Caen in preparing his daily column. He called it his "Loyal Royal".
Royal Aristocrat Electric Typewriter
Royal KMG19

In December 1957, Royal announced it had just produced its 10 millionth typewriter. Congratulations were received from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks and the Governor of Connecticut, Abe Ribicoff.

In December 1964, Litton Industries' stockholders approved the acquisition of Royal McBee. The deal became final in March 1965. Litton would change the name of Royal McBee back to Royal Typewriter and reorganize the company into five divisions: Royal Typewriter, Roytype Consumer Products, Roytype Supplies, McBee Systems, and RMB.

October 1966 saw Litton announce plans to acquire the English typewriter producer Imperial, through its Royal Typewriter division.

In January 1969, Litton Industries further cemented its hold on the typewriter market by purchasing the German typewriter manufacturer, Triumph Adler [de]. Almost immediately, the U.S. government filed an anti-trust suit against Litton accusing it of creating a monopoly. The FTC ruled in March 1973 that Litton had to divest itself of Triumph Adler. Litton appealed and, in a rare reversal, the FTC issued a ruling in April 1975 stating that Litton could keep Triumph Adler.

In March 1979, Volkswagen, seeking to diversify, announced its intention to acquire a 55% stake in Triumph Adler. Included in the deal was Royal Typewriter.

Sales continued to climb and by 1982 sales in North America of Royal and Triumph Adler totaled over $600 million.

In April 1986, Olivetti, the Italian typewriter/computer manufacturer, announced plans to purchase Triumph Adler and Royal from Volkswagen. For nearly two decades Royal was a part of the Olivetti family.

In September 2004, Royal became a private American company again.

Now known as Royal Consumer Information Products Inc., Royal’s product line has evolved to include cash registers, shredders, personal digital assistants (PDAs)/electronic organizers, postal scales, weather stations, and a wide range of original and compatible/remanufactured imaging supplies supporting today’s most popular printers, faxes, and copiers.

As of 2019, Royal is still introducing new typewriters under the Royal brand name.[5]

On 1 November 2021, Royal Consumer Information Products, Inc.[6] (for the Americas) and the Czechia-based Moravia Consulting spol. s r.o.[7] (for all other markets) became the licensees of HP Development Company, L.P. to continue the development, production, distribution, marketing and support of HP-branded calculators.


Model Year Introduced Notes
Royal 1 (Standard) 1906 First model, flatbed design
Royal 5 1911 Flatbed, 11" carriage
Royal 6 1911 Flatbed, 15" carriage
Royal 8 1911 Flatbed, 19" carriage
Royal 10 1914 Upright design, Beveled glass sides
Royal Portable 1926 First portable model
Royal Portable (2nd Model) 1931 Second portable model
Royal Signet 1932-3 Depression-era, low-cost portable
Royal H 1934
Royal KHM 1935-7 Round raised cover over ribbons
Royal Junior 1935 Depression-Era, low-cost portable
Royal 'O' Portable Standard 1935 Similar to the Royal 'A' Deluxe but with no automatic paper lock or tabulator. Only sold in black.
Royal 'A' Deluxe 1935 Touch control, finger comfort keys, automatic paper lock, tabulator. Multiple colors available for purchase.
Royal Aristocrat (1st Model) 1939 Large portable. Tabs were set manually.
Royal KMM 1939 Hinged top, touch control, Introduced "Magic Margin" system
Royal Quiet Deluxe Portable 1939
Royal Companion (1st model) 1941 A Royal Varsity, with a two-color ribbon.
Royal Varsity 1941 Replaced the Royal Junior and Signet—a low-cost portable typewriter.
Royal Quiet Deluxe (2nd model) 1948 Designed by Henry Dreyfuss
Royal Arrow 1948 (?) For military use during World War II
Royal KMG 1949 Extra long carriage
Royal Companion (2nd Model) 1950 Designed by Henry Dreyfuss
Royal 1950 Royal's first electric typewriter
Royal Diana 1953 Made in Mannheim, Germany. Made until 1959.
Royal HH 1954 Hinged Top, Touch Control, Portable
Royal Royalite 1955 Made in Leiden. Small portable.
Royal Senior Companion 1955 Low-cost, full-size portable typewriter.
Royal Companion (3rd model) 1955 Lower-cost version of the Senior Companion.
Royal Quiet Deluxe (3rd model) 1955 Came in a choice of six colors
Royal Futura (1st Model) 1958 First Royal portable with keyboard-level tab clear/set.
Royal Heritage, Heritage Deluxe, Heritage III 1959 Essentially a Royal Futura but sold exclusively at Montgomery Ward.
Royal All-American 1961 Royal Futura body with no "Magic Margins" or "Touch Control". Same as "Tab-O-Matic" but different color and different luggage case.
Royal Aristocrat (2nd Model) 1961 Tri-Tone Royal Futura body with no "Magic Margins." Similar to "Tab-O-Matic" and "All American" but with keys like the Heritage line.
Royal Tab-O-Matic (1st Model) 1961 Royal Futura body with no "Magic Margins" or "Touch Control". Same as "All-American" but different color and different luggage case.
Royal Eldorado 1962 Royalite painted black and gold.
Royal Dart 1962 A special Royalite made for Montgomery Ward, with a raised ribbon cover.
Royal Lark 1962 A special Royalite, with a raised ribbon cover.
Royal Empress 1962 Large, futuristic office typewriter
Royalite '64 1963 Royal Royalite, with a two-color ribbon. Offered in either light yellow, or gray.
Royal 5000SDW 1964
Royal Safari 1964 Full-featured portable typewriter.
Royal Custom II 1965 A full-sized portable typewriter, available in either red or charcoal. One of the last Royal portables to be produced in the United States.
Royalite '65 1964 Royalite, with new design, based on the Royal Futura.
Royal Skylark 1965 A small, plastic-bodied Royalite.
Royalite (Model 2) 1966 Small plastic typewriter, with snap-on lid.
Royal '890' 1966 Came in either white, beige, or gray
Royal Telstar 1966 Basically a Royal Safari, with fewer features, and sold at a lower price.
Royal 550 1967
Royal Aristocrat (3rd Model) 1968 Similar to Royal Safari. Doesn't have a "1" key but does have a "+" key.
Royal Mercury 1968 Small metal-bodied portable, made by Silver-Reed, in Japan. Early models are painted ivory. Possibly also branded as the Royal 200.[8]
Royal Century 1968 Like the Royal Mercury, except painted two-tone blue, with a raised ribbon cover.
Royal Signet 1968 Like the Royal Mercury; lacks touch control and two-color ribbon. Came in gray
Royal Jet 1968 Blue version of the Signet.
Royal Futura (2nd Model) 1968 A gold and white Royal 890 design was sold as the "Futura" in 1968.
Royal Apollo 1969 Electric portable typewriter.
Royal Jetstar 1970 Fully-Electric Personal Typewriter.
Royal Tab-O-Matic (second design) 1972 Royal Mercury with preset tabulator. Painted dark brown.
Royal Sabre 1972 One of the first Royal portables to be manufactured in Portugal
Royal Astronaut 1972 Plastic portable typewriter, with a modernistic design. Made in Japan.
Royal Custom III 1973 A full-sized portable typewriter available in two tone deep red/white or blue/white.
Royal Fleetwood 1972 Woodgrained plastic portable, based on Royal Sprite. Made by Silver-Reed. Also called Caravan. Had transistor radio in its case.
Royal Sprite 1972 Plastic typewriter, with a transistor radio mounted in its case.
Royal Sahara 1975 A rebadged Adler Tippa S, made of bright-blue plastic.
Royal Safari (Model 2) 1979 Made in Portugal
Royal Cavalier Pre-1990
Royal Safari III 1989 Made in Korea. Manual portable.
Royal Scrittore ca. 2012 Made in China. Manual portable.
Royal Scrittore II ca. 2012 Made in China. Manual portable.
Royal Epoch ca. 2015 Made in China. Manual portable.

During the 1980s, Royal also produced consumer daisy wheel printers like the Royal LetterMaster and Royal OfficeMaster 2000, the former being a cheaper model.[9]


An LGP-30 computer by Royal McBee

Royal McBee sold and serviced early computers RPC-4000 and RPC-9000.[10] Royal McBee partnered with General Precision in the Royal Precision Electronic Computer Company, which sold and serviced the LGP-30 (in 1956) and LGP-21 (in 1963) single-user desk computers manufactured by the Librascope division of General Precision. Royal McBee was based in Port Chester, New York.[11]

The RPC-4000 is the computer on which Mel Kaye performed a legendary programming task in machine code, as told by Ed Nather in the hacker epic The Story of Mel.

In popular culture[edit]

A Royal typewriter is a large story element in Stephen King's novel Misery.

60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer was known to write all of his scripts on a Royal typewriter.[12]

A Royal typewriter with a Prestige Elite typeface was one of the items found at Zodiac suspect Arthur Leigh Allen's apartment, matching the typewriter the Zodiac killer used to write letters sent to the Riverside Police Department.

Jessica Fletcher used a Royal typewriter to write her novels.

Mason Williams threw a Royal Model X typewriter out of a speeding car driven by Ed Ruscha for their art book Royal Road Test (1967).[13]

See also[edit]

  • Edge-notched card – The McBee Company, which merged with Royal Typewriter in 1954, manufactured Keysort cards and accessories from the 1930s


  1. ^ Fenton, Reuven (November 6, 2007). "Last word on typewriter not written yet". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  2. ^ Cortada, James W. (1993). Before the Computer. Princeton University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0691050457.
  3. ^ a b "Our History – Royal Consumer Information Products – Royal Consumer Information Products". Retrieved 2020-10-14.
  4. ^ Evensen, Bruce J. (1996). When Dempsey Fought Tunney: Heroes, Hokum, and Storytelling in the Jazz Age. Univ. of Tennessee Press. pp. 87. ISBN 9780870499180 – via Internet Archive. dempsey tunney radio broadcast new york daily news royal.
  5. ^ The Typewriter Database. "Royal Typewriter Model Serial Number Database". retrieved 2021.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Gifford, James (11 September 2016). "196X Royal (Silver-Seiko) 200". Typewriter Database. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  9. ^ "Buyer's Guide To The Printers Of 1986". Compute!. June 1986. p. 24. Retrieved 30 Mar 2015.
  10. ^ "royalPrecision :: RPC-9000 :: RPC-9000 Introduction Nov60". November 1960.
  11. ^ See last page of LGP-30 Brochure.
  12. ^ Klein, Peter (19 May 2016). "In appreciation of Morley Safer - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail.
  13. ^ "Royal road test, 1967, printed 1971 by Edward Ruscha".

External links[edit]