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Mehano Typewriter
Toy typewriter with built-in encryption

Mehano is a Slovenian (formerly: Yugoslavian) toy company that produces a range of traditional and electronic toys. They are particularly known for their range of model trains and other railroad equipment. The company was established in 1952 as Mehanotehnika and changed its name in 1990. The company also produced a range of electronic typewriters, some of which had built-in cryptographic capabilities. These devices were also sold by Mattel (US) as the Barbie Typewriter.

 More about Mehano
 
Electronic 8000
The image on the right shows the Electronic 8000, which is one of the first electronic toy typewriters that were built by Mehano in 1991.

This model does not have the built-in crypto­graphic features that were present in some of the later models, such as the E-115 (see below).
  
Example of a Mehano Electronic 8000 typewriter. Photograph via eBay user piercecollection1 [3].

 
E-115
The image on the right shows the original electronic typewriter as it was produced by Mehano around 1998 [1]. As the device was initially intended as a boys toy, it was given a rather square exterior and muted colours. This model already had the cryptographic features.

The design was later chosen by Mattel for extension of their Barbie™ product line. The machine was rebranded and was given the typical bright pink/purple Barbie colours. As the rebranded product was aimed at girls, Mattel did not mention the crypto features in the manual.

 Check out the Barbie variant
  

 
E-116
The E-116 model is nearly identical to the E-115 shown above, and the bottom of the case is marked E115/E116. Although the battery compartment is still present, it can no longer be used as its contacts are missing. This means that this version can only be used with a power adapter.
 
This variant was made between 1999 and 2003 as the lower case shell has manufacturing marks of 2 March 1999, whilst the upper case shell was made on 20 April 2003. The EM6605 custom chip inside the machine is dated January 1999, whilst the PCB itself is marked E115.G00 rev.B.

The image on the right shows the French version of the E-116, on which the crypto features are not available, which may be due to the fierce French import restrictions. At the time, even the simplest encryption was strickly forbidden in France and you could even be sent to jail for it.
  
Photograph by Karsten Hansky [2]

 
Exterior. Photograph by Karsten Hansky [2]. Bottom of the case. Photograph by Karsten Hansky [2]. Battery compartment. Photograph by Karsten Hansky [2]. Printed Curcuit Board (PCB). Photograph by Karsten Hansky [2]. Exterior. Photograph by Karsten Hansky [2].

 
References
  1. Georg Sommeregger, Image of original Mehano typewriter
    Via Flickr, user dr. shordzi. Retrieved July 2015.

  2. Karsten Hansky, Photographs of Mehano E115/E116 model
    Personal correspondence. June 2016.

  3. E-bay user 'piercecollection1', Photographs of Mehano Electronic 8000 typewriter
    Via eBay. Retrieved June 2016.

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Crypto Museum. Created: Friday 03 July 2015. Last changed: Monday, 13 June 2016 - 10:45 CET.
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