I was surprised to learn, however, that the Underwood Corporation (later the Underwood Typewriter Company) considered the issue important too. The prosperous 1950s created a need for for office workers, and women in unprecedented numbers began leaving home to fill those jobs. Soon, Underwood was receiving so many complaints from secretaries about chipped nail polish that they decided to come up with a solution, instead of dismissing the feedback as frivolous.
In 1955 the company introduced the Underwood 150. Here is the copy from their ad campaign for the new model:
THE NEW UNDERWOOD 150 IS THE TYPEWRITER DESIGNED TO KEEP YOUR HANDS LOVELY TO LOOK AT
Two important improvements make the new Underwood 150 the typewriter most wanted by the girls who make business hum. Underwood has always been designed with the user in mind. That’s why it’s so good looking and has so many extra features to make turning out crisp, clean work practically automatic. Now, look how Underwood and Underwood alone helps you keep fingernails and hands lovely to look at, lovely to touch!
Exclusive half-moon keys: Formed to fit fingers. Half-moon tops mean fingernails never touch the keys. No more worry about short unfashionable fingernails, chipped nail polish! Exclusive touch tuning: Stubborn typewriter keys often give girls rough, widened fingertips. Underwood’s touch is kitten-soft. 28 easy-to-set touch variations! You choose touch to suit fingertips, always look fresh from the manicurist.
Underwood's ad men may have called the office workers "girls," but they knew they were tapping a new consumer goldmine. In addition to the new half-moon keys, the company made a special chip-resistant nail polish called Underwood's Red, available only to women who wrote in on company letterhead stationery requesting a bottle.
Secretaries were also told in the ad to telephone their "Underwood man" to ask to see the new Underwood 150, so women were allowed to operate them but not sell them. Who would have thought one magazine ad could shed so much light on the complex and changing role of women in the 1950s?