Transparent Typewriter; Perfect For Ghostwriting
I saw this totally clear typewriter at one my favorite Chicago haunts; American Science and Surplus. They traffic a lot of odds and ends there, and even they didn't know what this was. I initially thought it was some salesman demo or a "test shot" (a term from the plastics industry when they create a transparent prototype to spot any molding problems), or perhaps yet another late 90s iMac tribute. Then it ocurred to me that just like our popular post on a transparent TV set, this typewriter must be for use in jails.
Turns out that this typewriter is the Swintec 2410CCi Clear Cabinet Electronic Typewriter. Their tagline is "clearly, the smart choice" which is more than just cute marketing. The transparent case is so that prisoners can't use the typewriter as a place to stash contraband. Even the ribbon cartridge is a specially manufactured clear one. Also there are as few metal parts as possible so that prisoners cannot pull off pieces to "convert" for other purposes (i.e. impromptu "shank").
Even though most clacky typewriters have been silenced forever, Swintec still does good business on these $200 typewriters even today. Prisoners can buy the unit through the commissary with money that's usually sent in from the outside. Many prisons offer some sort of limited computer access today, but there are those who prefer to write up their legal documents and correspondence (called "kites") on an old typewriter – which is in point of fact not that old. This model was developed and began manufacture in the early 2000s.
Even if you're not writing your prison novel while doing "Buck Rogers Time" (a sentence with a parole date way off in the future), you can get one of these typewriters. This clear model is available to the general public on Swintec's website. General manager Ed Michael of Swintec says that plenty of people on the outside buy the clear typewriter "because it's pretty".