Olivetti Praxis 48

First and foremost here are some gorgeous pictures of this thing by Mass Made Soul

I wanted to make an appreciation / discussion thread of the absolutely gorgeous design of this typewriter. I’ve been around for a while and I feel like the Praxis 48 is never talked about and it’s such a cool and inspiring piece.

There’s so many interesting design motifs that I feel like could make such a good looking board.

Like the keycaps alone make it so striking. Probably wouldn’t be the best to type on, but the double shot green tops give it such a unique look and the matching accents on the knob and release mechanism are so much fun. This is originally why I fell in love with this thing.

I feel like with rotary encoders being a big trend right now, a keycap set that comes with a matching knob would be a fun idea.

Other points in bullet points cuz I’m a bad writer and it’s really late:

  • The space bar being integrated into the chassis is so slick even if it’d a terrible design for a keyboard.
  • The texture on the side of the main body transitioning into the smooth plastic of the cantilevered keyboard gives it such an interesting side profile and really makes the body look so sturdy and ready to be used as a tool
  • The little Italian flag accent on what I assume is the power button is a cute touch.

Wild, almost architectural design! The keycaps are indeed iconic, with every key having a stepped profile. The Apple IIc might owe some of its design to this machine.


Oh wow, I never noticed how the slight overhang on the IIc keyboard does such a good job at making it look like it’s floating

Weird that the space bar is on a different level than every other key.


The keycap set your girlfriend tells you not to worry about

But in all seriousness, these definitely have some beauty and splendor to them. I imagine we don’t want to type on stilted keycaps so high up these days, but artistically these are lovely keycaps! This is an awesome article :slight_smile:


What is that grey cable?

No clue, I just grabbed a random picture online. I’d guess someone just used an old coiled telephone cable since you’d have all the internal wires you need. You’d just need to replace the ends

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That’s brilliant.


The difference is subtle, but the one in the pic is a flat cable, not round.

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Ye I noticed that after I posted :disappointed:
But I think u will find the right kind on ali/bang

I’m so happy to see the Praxis 48 getting some love! I actually own 3 of these, although only one is currently working. Of all the typewriters Ettore Sotsass designed for Olivetti, including the iconic Valentine (I have one of these too), the Praxis 48 is by far my favorite. I first discovered this gem at an estate sale. It wasn’t working, but I figured it was still worth the $30. Then I embarked on a long and arduous attempt to repair it using an old service manual found online. (Pics and description of the before and after here.) Sadly, that one ended up developing a new problem, so I trawled eBay until a working one finally came up at under $100. To my dismay, it was DOA so the seller just refunded me and in my basement it sits. After some more trawling, I found a mint condition one in its original (unfortunately generic-looking) case. And it works perfectly.

The keycaps are one of my favorite design details, and surprisingly they are very nice to type on. Because it’s an automatic typewriter, you only need a light touch to activate a key, so the feel of typing on it is a real pleasure. However, I have to be careful not to type too fast, because if you hit 2 keys at the same time, the machine locks up until you hit the backspace key to reset it. This is a “feature” that prevents the typebars from getting tangled with one another.

By the way, I see how the power button can look like the Italian flag in pictures, but actually it’s not meant to be the flag. The green part is on the front face of the button and the red part is on the top, so that when you press the bottom part of the button, the red face pivots forward to give a clear indication that the power is on (as if the formidable hum of the machine weren’t enough). The green color matches the keycaps and it’s a most lovely minty color that pairs beautifully with the dove gray of the rest.

Now that I think of it, my Praxis 48 is one of most prized belongings!


Thanks for the write up! I’m really jealous that you own a working one of these, but somehow I never considered trying to find one of eBay.

Since yours works, do you know what all those large blank keys do? I’m assuming return, left and right shift are all standard, but is the 2u tall cap on the left caps lock? And I have no ideas what the blank 1u key next to the ‘A’ key is.

The more I look at different pictures the more I feel like these key caps wouldn’t look as good on board without the huge typewriter body accompanying it.

The 2u tall cap is a left return
The 1u next to it is caps lock
The others are L and R shift.

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