"a battered old Underwood portable"
The Underwood Typewriter Company
was the dominant producer of typewriters for the office market by the turn of the century, having begun operations in 1874. However, other companies threatened to take the lead in the home market, and in 1919 the company produced its first portable typewriter with three rows of keys. The company was taken over by Olivetti in 1960 having produced well over five million machines, and has now largely disappeared.
To be the owner of a battered Underwood portable in 1899, twenty years before its launch, Walser is clearly well ahead of his time. Indeed, the very first prototype of a portable typewriter was not revealed until 1904. However, Underwood portables were popular with early writers and William Faulkner's model still sits on his desk in his former home.