GENERATION 3000

February 2006. It has been found that another model of manual portable typewriter is presently being marketed in the United States, albeit in apparently somewhat limited fashion.

One of these was recently obtained and is shown at left.  The machine is labeled "Generation 3000," and is clearly marked as having been made in China.  The machine was obtained through the Signatures mail-order service, which is operated by Starcrest Products of California, Inc. 

The machine is identical in all important respects to the Brother-based version of the Rover 5000 Super de Luxe.
This machine's features include 44 keys / 88 characters, segment shift, and rugged plastic body with matching vinyl, velour-lined zipper case (including shoulder strap.)  The case is seen at right.  Other features include fast-spacer key, tabulator key (operating with seven fixed stopping points,) three-position ribbon selector, variable line spacing, carriage lock, and automatic ribbon reverse. 

Like the Rover 5000 Super de Luxe, the Generation 3000 is a good, modern typewriter for general work.  Replacement ribbons are available from the same catalog but can be obtained in many places.  The machine will do the work of general writing with ease, and has an agreeable if not wholly solid feel.
Now that we've taken a good look at the Generation 3000, let's take a moment to compare it to its close mechanical relative, the aforementioned Rover-branded machine.  One of these is seen at left.

Comparison of the two side-by-side indicates that, in all probability, they were built in the same facility.  However, there are some differences, most notably perhaps in the way the ribbon cover is removed.  Other body-casing differences exist as well, and since it is known that at least two manufacturers in China are presently advertising high-impact molded plastic typewriter parts, lids and/or bodies, it may indeed be that multiple bodies have been fitted to the two brands over time.  Other differences included the packing materials, such as the shift-stop applied which may indicate manufacture over a span of some time.
Both of these machines are derived from much earlier designs by Brother, of Japan, who developed a wholly new basket-shifted portable with plastic body and dowel-mounted key lever design in the 1970's.  One of these is seen at right, in the form of a K-Mart 300 Deluxe 12.  This machine includes a wide carriage and tab stops set and cleared from the keyboard, neither of which is offered on the Generation or Rover machines.  All other design aspects are identical.

Machines of this variant can be found with the Brother brand name having models in the 750/760 series.
Extensive research has shown that the manufacturer of the Rover 5000 Super de Luxe and the Generation 3000 shown on this page is Ideal (Jinan) Machinery Co. Ltd. of China.  This particular variant has been offered before for export; for example, Chee-May (Goh's) of Taiwan has offered at least two variants of the Ideal (Jinan) machine with its own KOFA label.  None of these was brought into the United States, though; the first appearance of these machines was under Olivetti auspices, labeled as the Olivetti MS25 Premier.  Shortly thereafter, Olivetti machines of this kind began to appear as wholesale items on various internet office supply and clearing house websites.  Near the same time, more machines of the same type, but labeled Rover 5000 Super de Luxe became available through the mail-order "Dr. Leonard's Health Care Products" catalog, and as we now know, the "Signatures" mail-order line now offeres the Generation 3000 - again, mechanically an identical machine.  The Carol Wright catalog, affiliated with Dr. Leonard's, also now offers the Rover as well.  Thus, the same machine in a mechanical sense is being offered for sale, right now, with three different and unrelated brandings. 

It should be noted that the machine is also offered with three different brands in a marketing sense.  The "house" brand is Rover, and this is owned by, and applied for, export agencies in China.  This is the brand applied when no special, contracted "outside" brand is specified, and is that normally applied for export offer.  The Olivetti brand can be described as an "outsourcing" operation, albeit one very late in the game and indeed one which follows the end of all manual portable typewriter production inside the Olivetti company itself.  Finally, the Generation brand name is being applied for Generation Marketing Group, as assignee of a Mr. Ashok Pamani.  This group obviously either bought the machines and then offered them for sale here, or else brokered a deal with the catalog house or one of its suppliers.  The machines are normally marketed for export by Ideal (HK) Products Company, Ltd.
The instruction book that came with the Generation 3000 shows a machine which is more like the Rover in decor, and is also notable for having a layout exactly like that of the Model 100 machine described in detail on my Portable Typewriter Reference Site.  The instructions also show a snap-over plastic lid instead of the vinyl case, making it seem as if the case is a special-order item for Generation Marketing.  The case, by the way, is good quality, and even has four feet on its back so that the typewriter is supported on these when encased and standing with case-handle up.
The Generation 3000 is a surprising thing at this late date, and perhaps we are seeing the last bright flicker of manual portable typewriter sales as brand new products here.  Only time will tell whether or not these three product lines will survive or grow, although the odds are stacked way against all of them.  The appearance of fully operational and viable portables in various catalogs seems appropriate at the end, given the fact that it is an older generation that the marketers seek to reach.  It may prove out that marketing them to a younger generation would have been better!
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December 2007 updates!!!
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