The Olivetti Dora

The Olivetti Dora was new or rather it was in 1975 and was old shop stock. I purchased it new in September 2015. First impressions count and on removing it from the shipping carton I was not very impressed with the case supplied to carry the typewriter around. Made out of plastic covered cardboard like a filing folder which rapidly degrade splitting on the edges and cracking and discolouring. The case does little to protect the typewriter which has a very vulnerable line selector lever which is easily damaged.DSC_0541 crblg  Olivetti Dora

Putting the first page in the machine with a backing sheet it was noted that there was no paper rest and the folding carriage return lever had a soft plastic cover on the end which had an unpleasant feel to it. The plastic casing of the machine is quite thick and you could almost mistake it for metal at first.DSC_0550 crblg

All did not go well when we started to type on the Dora. The stiffness was only to be expected with a  new machine and after a couple of pages it was running very smoothly requiring only a light touch. This is just as well as there is no touch control. The quality of the print was very good as you would expect. The margin release button is on the top row next to the number two key. It seems that the budget did not extend to marking the key in any way. Sitting in its case it had not improved with age and the bell refused to ring which took a bit of fiddling with. It is very quiet and unlikely to be heard over the noise the machine makes. This seems to be common with other Olivetti typewriters judging by the comments of others. The carriage lock also did not work and made no difference which way it was switched until the third page when the carriage locked mid-way. The ribbon did not reverse at first either. The end of one spring had become detached or had never been attached and even then it took some persuasion for it to work correctly. The ribbon which was still in as new condition is the shortest I have ever seen, filling the spool by less than a third. I think this is taking cost cutting too far. The ribbon selector has a position for cutting stencils if anyone does these days but if you do then the Dora can do it. There is no provision for line drawing which is unusual for any typewriter. Paper handling is barely adequate with no paper scale on the paper bail and one on the back plate behind the platen. The Dora coped well with one page of thick headed paper and two carbon copies and there is room for more if needed. Olivetti, according to the literature that came with the machine recommended it for the small business but we would not agree with this. The Dora also lacks a tabulator. The typewriter is not particularly noisy and we thought it made a nice sound and the family cat did not complain too much which is usually a good sign. The Dora is not very portable either. It is quite a lump weighing in at 14.8 Imperial pounds.

We have had this machine for just over two months and it has seen regular use. The mechanics are the same as the Lettera 32, Studio 44 and the Valentine S which also lacks a tabulator. The Dora does everything that it was designed to do, which isn’t much and does it quite well. It was pleasant to use with a light positive touch and both our touch typists and two fingered teen liked it but found it rather tiring to use for any length of time. Perhaps it was all the advertising hype of the sixties and seventies but I was disappointed with the Dora. I was expecting more and the Dora just couldn’t deliver. It is a very basic budget machine and although it does type quite nicely is a rather lack lustre performing typewriter.These machines are not very collectable but if you fancy something a little different and do not have an Olivetti then the Dora is cheap as chips and common as muck. Expect to see forty or more of these for sale on Ebay UK at any one time and you could expect to pay around £20 mid week although they sometimes go for half that. This is yet another £5 typewriter at a charity shop or car boot sale, so pick a good one.