The Alexis is a linear index typewriter, the invention of James A.
Wallace, of Alexis, IL. It was officially named "THE
ALEXIS TYPE-WRITER" for which Wallace received United States
Patent #423644 on March 18, 1890. The Alexis measures 16+” wide,
6” deep and 5” tall. Its extra wide base allows for a
paper transport carrier to travel inside its body, across the
entire writing line, similar to that of the extremely rare Boston typewriter. The paper lays flat on the transport carrier as it moves horizontally across the writing line. Characters are selected from a linear index at the top of the
machine and printed as the operator presses a lever in the
rear left corner sending a hammer above a rubber type plate into
the desired character for printing.
A space lever
is also positioned in the rear left corner, alongside the print lever.
The Alexis prints both upper and lower case characters. In order to print in
upper case, the operator would move and hold a spring loaded lever located on
type plate. This action shifts the type from lower to upper case.
After printing an upper case character and released, the lever would return the type to lower case. Inking
was by an ink pad located on the deck beneath the type plate.
Another oddity built into this little beauty is the feed
roller shaft with knurled knob that was used to advance the
paper vertically. Measuring six inches long it protrudes
out from the left side frame as the paper carrier travels across
the writing line towards the right margin. The extended
length of the shaft provides access to the knob regardless of
where the carrier is along the writing line. Each Alexis
had its serial number crudely scratched into the wood base (see
All-in-all, using an Alexis typewriter was
slow and awkward so it’s not surprising that this model did not
succeed in the marketplace. Being a failure with so few
manufactured is what makes
this odd little typewriter so desirable. If you have or know of an Alexis
typewriter, I would like to hear from you.
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