Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A typewriter is a mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic device with a set of "keys" that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a document, usually paper.
In the late 19th century and at the start of the 20th century, a person who operated such a device was sometimes called a typewriter but it then became more common to call the person a typist.
For much of the 20th century, typewriters were indispensable tools in business offices and for many (if not all) professional writers. By the 1980s, however, word processor applications on personal computers largely overtook the tasks previously accomplished with typewriters. However, typewriters are still popular in the developing world and among some niche markets.
As of 2006, the following companies manufacture typewriters and accessories: Smith-Corona, Olivetti, Adler-Royal, Olympia, Brother, and Nakajima. Olivetti is the only western company to currently manufacture manual typewriters. All other current models are electronic.

Early innovations
By about 1920, the "manual" or "mechanical" typewriter had reached a more or less standardized design. There were minor variations from one manufacturer to another, but most typewriters followed the design noted below:
Each key was attached to a typebar that had the corresponding letter molded into its other end. When a key was struck briskly and firmly, the typebar hit a ribbon (usually made of inked fabric) stretched in front of a cylindrical platen that moved back and forth. The paper was rolled around by the typewriter's platen, which was then rotated by a lever (the "carriage return" lever at the far left) to each new line of text. Some ribbons were inked in black and red, each a stripe half the width and the entire length of the ribbon. A lever on most machines allowed switching between colors for typing bookkeeping entries, where negative amounts had to be in red.
In the 1940s, a silent typewriter was marketed, but it failed, leading some observers to the conclusion that the clickety-clack of the typical typewriter was a consumer preference.

Though electric typewriters would not achieve widespread popularity until nearly a century later, the basic groundwork for the electric typewriter was laid by the Universal Stock Ticker, invented by Thomas Edison in 1870. This device remotely printed letters and numbers on a stream of paper tape from input generated by a specially designed typewriter at the other end of a telegraph line.
The first electric typewriter was produced by the Blickensderfer Manufacturing Company, of Stamford, Connecticut, in 1902. While never marketed commercially, this was the first known typewriter to use a typewheel rather than individual typebars, although the element was cylindrical rather than ball-shaped. The next step in the development of the electric typewriter came in 1909, when Charles and Howard Krum file a patent for the first practical teletype machine in 1909. The Krums' machine also used a typewheel rather than individual typebars. While innovative, neither of these machines reached the business or personal consumer.
Electrical typewriter designs removed the direct mechanical connection between the keys and the element that struck the paper. Not to be confused with later electronic typewriters, electric typewriters contained only a single electrical component: the motor. Where the keystroke had previously moved a typebar directly, now it engaged mechanical linkages that directed mechanical power from the motor into the typebar. This was also true of the forthcoming IBM Selectric.
IBM and Remington Rand electric typewriters were the leading models until IBM introduced the IBM Selectric typewriter, which replaced the typebars with a spherical typeball (more correctly, "element"), slightly larger than a golf ball, with the letters molded on its surface. The Selectric used a system of latches, metal tapes, and pulleys driven by an electric motor to rotate the ball into the correct position and then strike it against the ribbon and platen. The typeball moved laterally in front of the paper instead of the former platen-carrying carriage moving the paper across a stationary print position.
The typeball design had many advantages, especially in eliminating of "jams" when more than one key was struck at once, and in the ability to change the typeball, allowing multiple fonts to be used in a single document. Selectric mechanisms were widely incorporated into computer terminals in the 1970s, because the typing mechanism was reasonably fast and jam-free; could produce very high quality output compared to competitors such as Teletype machines, could be initiated by a short, low-force mechanical action; did not require the movement of a heavy "type basket" in order to shift between lower- and upper-case; and did not require the platen roller assembly to move from side to side (which would be a problem with continuous-feed paper). The IBM 2741 terminal was a very popular example of a Selectric-based computer terminal, and similar mechanisms were employed as the console devices for many IBM System/360 computers. These mechanisms did use "ruggedized" designs compared to those in standard commercial typewriters.
IBM also gained an advantage by marketing more heavily to schools than Remington, with the idea being that students who learned to type on an IBM Electric would later choose IBM typewriters over the competition in the workplace as businesses replaced their old manual models.
Later models of IBM Executives and Selectrics replaced inked fabric ribbons with "carbon film" ribbons that had a dry black or colored powder on a "once-through" clear plastic tape. These could be used only once but later models used a cartridge that was simple to replace. A side effect of this technology is that the text typed on the machine can be easily read from the used ribbon. This "feature" raised issues where the machines were used for preparing classified documents; ribbons had to be accounted for to ensure that typists didn't walk out with them in pockets or purses. A document reconstructed from a used carbon ribbon was portrayed as the key to solving a crime in an episode of Columbo.
A variation known as "Correcting Selectrics" introduced correction, where a sticky tape in front of the print ribbon could remove the black-powdered image of a typed character, and introduced selectable "pitch" so that the typewriter could be switched among pica ("10 pitch", or 10 characters per inch) and elite ("12 pitch"), even in one document. Even so, all Selectrics were monospaced—each and every character was allotted the same horizontal space on the page. Although IBM had produced a successful typebar-based machine, the IBM Executive, with proportional spacing, no proportionally spaced Selectric office typewriter was ever introduced. There was, however, a much more expensive proportionally spaced machine called the Selectric Composer which was capable of right-margin justification and so was considered a typesetting machine rather than a typewriter, and the more reasonably priced IBM Electronic Typewriter 50, which was capable of proportional spacing but not justifying.
The final major development of the typewriter was the "electronic" typewriter. Most of these replaced the typeball with a daisy wheel mechanism (a disk with the letters molded on the outside edge of the "petals"). A plastic daisy-wheel was much simpler and cheaper than the typeball but wore out more easily. Some electronic typewriters were in essence dedicated word processors with internal memory and cartridge or diskette external memory-storage devices. Unlike the Selectrics and earlier models, these really were "electronic" and relied on integrated circuits and multiple electromechanical components.

Electric designs
Towards the end of the commercial popularity of typewriters in the 1980s, a number of hybrid designs combining features of computer printers and typewriters were introduced.
These typically incorporated keyboards from existing models of typewriters and the printing mechanism of dot-matrix printers. The generation of teletypes with impact pin-based printing engines was not adequate for the demanding quality required for typed output. Newly developed, thermal transfer technologies used in thermal label printers had become technically feasible for typewriters.
IBM produced a series of typewriters called Thermotronic with letter-quality output and correcting tape along with printers tagged Quietwriter. Brother extended the life of their typewriter product line with similar products. DEC meanwhile had the DECwriter.
The development of these proprietary printing engines provided the vendors with exclusive markets in consumable ribbons and the possibility to use standardised printing engines with varying degrees of electronic and software sophistication to develop product lines.
The increasing dominance of personal computers and the introduction of low-cost, truly high-quality, laser and inkjet printer technologies are replacing typewriters.

Computer/typewriter hybrids
Even with the proliferation of the personal computer and word processing software, typewriters continued to be used in professional offices (lawyers, doctors, schools, etc.) for specialized applications such as filling out pre-printed forms, addressing envelopes, and writing letters. However, modern computer programs enable computer users to accomplish most or all of these tasks.
The monospaced, stark, and slightly uneven look of typewritten text can have some artistic appeal, and some people, young and old, prefer to use a typewriter.
In some less developed countries, where personal computers are not ubiquitous, one may find public spaces with individuals who rent out their services as on-the-spot letter writers, accepting dictation from their customers, who may be illiterate or who simply do not own a typewriter. In Mexico, for example, such a thing can be seen daily on Calle Heroes de Cañonero in downtown Tampico.

Typewriter legacy
The 1874 Sholes & Glidden typewriters established the QWERTY layout for the letter keys. During the period in which Sholes and his colleagues were experimenting with this invention, other keyboard arrangements were apparently tried, but these are poorly documented. The tantalizing near-alphabetical sequence on the "home row" of the QWERTY layout (d-f-g-h-j-k-l) demonstrates that a straightforward alphabetical arrangement was the original starting point.

Keyboard layout
Several words of the 'typewriter age' have survived into the personal computer era. Examples include:

carbon copy – now in its abbreviated form "CC" designating copies of email messages (with no carbon involved, at least not until potential printouts);
cursor – a marker used to indicate where the next character will be printed
carriage return (CR) – indicating an end of line and return to the first column of text (and on some computer platforms, advancing to the next line)
line feed (LF), aka 'newline' – standing for moving the cursor to the next on-screen line of text in a word processor document (and on the eventual printout(s) of the document). Computer jargon
When Remington first started marketing typewriters, the company assumed the machine would not be used for composing but for amanuensis purposes, and that the person typing would be a woman. Flowers were printed on the casing of early models in order to make the machine seem more comfortable for women to use. In the United States, women started working in the professional workforce very often as typists, and according to the 1910 U.S. Census, 81 percent of typists were female. With more women brought out of the home and into offices, there was some concern about the effects this would have on the morals of society, both by moralists and pornographers. The "typewriter girl" became part of the iconography of early-twentieth-century pornography. The "Tijuana bibles" — dirty comic books produced in Mexico for the American market, starting in the 1930s — often featured women typists. In one panel, businessman in a three-piece suit, ogling at his secretary's thigh, says, "Miss Higby, are you ready for—ahem!—er—dictation?"
The famous quote by Marcus Glenn, "Live by the typewriter, die by the typewriter!" also dates from this period.

Typewriter The effect of typewriters on culture
According to the standards taught in secretarial schools in the mid-1900s, a business letter was supposed to have no mistakes and no visible corrections. Accuracy was prized as much as speed. Indeed, typing speeds, as scored in proficiency tests and typewriting speed competitions, included a deduction of ten words for every mistake that was made.
Corrections were, of course, necessary, and a variety of methods and technologies were used.
The traditional method involved the use of a special typewriter eraser. The typewriter eraser was made of fairly hard, stiff rubber, containing abrasive material. It was in the shape of a thin, flat disk, approx. 2 inches (50 mm) in diameter by 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick allowing for the erasure of individual typed letters. Business letters were typed on heavyweight, high-rag-content bond paper, not merely to provide a luxurious appearance, but also to stand up to erasure. Typewriter erasers were equipped with a brush for brushing away eraser crumbs and paper dust, and using the brush properly was an important element of typewriting skill, because if erasure detritus fell into the typewriter, a very small buildup could cause the typebars to jam in their narrow supporting grooves.
Erasing a set of carbon copies was particularly difficult, and called for the use of a device called an eraser shield to prevent the pressure of erasure on the upper copies from producing carbon smudges on the lower copies.
Paper companies produced a special form of typewriter paper called erasable bond (for example, Eaton's Corrasable Bond). This incorporated a thin layer of material that prevented ink from penetrating and was relatively soft and easy to remove from the page. An ordinary soft pencil eraser could quickly produce perfect erasures on this kind of paper. However, the same characteristics that made the paper erasable made the characters subject to smudging due to ordinary friction and deliberate alteration after the fact, making it unacceptable for business correspondence, contracts, or any archival use.
In the 1950s and 1960s, correction fluid made its appearance, under brand names such as Liquid Paper, Wite-Out and Tipp-Ex. This was a kind of opaque white fast-drying paint which produced a fresh white surface onto which a correction could be re-typed. However, when held to the light, the covered-up characters were visible, as was the patch of dry correction fluid (which was never perfectly flat, and never a perfect match for the color, texture, and luster of the surrounding paper). The standard trick for solving this problem was photocopying the corrected page, but this was possible only with high quality photocopiers.
Dry correction products (such as correction paper) under brand names such as "Ko-Rec-Type" were introduced in the 1970s and functioned like white carbon paper. A strip of the product was placed over the letters needing correction, and the incorrect letters were retyped, causing the black character to be overstruck with a white overcoat. Similar material was soon incorporated in carbon-film electric typewriter ribbons; like the traditional two-color black-and-red inked ribbon common on manual typewriters, a black/white correcting ribbon became commonplace on electric typewriters.
The pinnacle of this kind of technology was the IBM Electronic Typewriter series. These machines, and similar products from other manufacturers, used a separate correction ribbon and a character memory. With a single keystroke, the typewriter was capable of automatically reversing and overstriking the previous characters with minimal marring of the paper. White cover-up or plastic lift-off correction ribbons are used with fabric ink or carbon film typing ribbons, respectively.

Correction methods
During the 1920s through 1940s, typing speed was an important secretarial qualification and typing contests were popular, publicized by typewriter companies as promotional tools.
As of 2005, Barbara Blackburn is the fastest English language typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she has maintained 150 word/min for 50 min and 170 word/min for shorter periods and has been clocked at a peak speed of 212 word/min. Blackburn, who failed her typing class in high school, first encountered the Dvorak keyboard in 1938, quickly learned to achieve very high speeds, and occasionally toured giving speed-typing demonstrations during her secretarial career. She appeared on The David Letterman Show and was deeply offended by Letterman's comedic treatment of her skill.
Popular software named "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" had led many people to assume that there is a woman named Mavis Beacon who is a very good typist. Mavis Beacon is a fictional promotional character, who is commonly represented as an African American female.

Typing speed records and speed contests

Authors and writers who had unusual relationships with typewriters
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche used a typewriter in an attempt to stem his migraine headaches and his incipient blindness. Mark Twain was the first important writer to present a publisher with a typewritten manuscript (for Life on the Mississippi). Henry James dictated to a typist.

Early adopters
William S. Burroughs wrote in some of his novels — and possibly believed — that "a machine he called the 'Soft Typewriter' was writing our lives, and our books, into existence", according to a book review in The New Yorker. And in the film adaptation of his novel, "Naked Lunch", his typewriter is a living, insect-like entity (voiced by Burroughs himself) and actually dictates the book to him.
Ernest Hemingway used to write his books standing up in front of a Royal typewriter suitably placed on a tall bookshelf. The typewriter on its bookshelf is kept in Finca Vigia, the author's Havana's house, now museum, where Hemingway lived until 1960--the year before his death.
Jack Kerouac, a fast typist at 100 words a minute, typed On the Road on a roll of paper so he wouldn't be interrupted as he wrote the book by having to change the paper, pushing him back into the world's inauthenticity. Within two weeks of starting to write On the Road, Kerouac had a single single-spaced paragraph 120 feet long. Some scholars say the scroll was shelf paper; others contend it was a Thermo-fax roll; another theory is that the roll consisted of sheets of architect's paper taped together.
Wall Street Journal writer Ellen Gamerman--who frequently covers computer and technology news--also composes her stories on a typewriter.

Andy Rooney, William F. Buckley Jr. were among many writers who were very reluctant to switch from typewriters to computers.

Late users
The composer Leroy Anderson wrote a short piece of music for orchestra and typewriter, which has since been used as the theme for numerous radio programs.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning musical comedy How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, is a satire set in the world of big business and features typewriter sound effects in the song "A Secretary Is Not A Toy."
The Winnipeg band Poor Tree incorporates typewriters in their music. Two to three members would type a poem, while reading them at the same time interlocking the lines words and sounds.
The Dolly Parton song "9 to 5" features typewriter noises as percussion.
The Tom Tom Club used the clacking keys of a typewriter to open their 1981 single Wordy Rappinghood.
On the album "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy", Brian Eno takes a typewriter solo in the song "China My China".
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Yann Tiersen has used the typewriter as a percussion instrument in a number of his compositions, notably "Pas si simple" on his 1996 album Rue des Cascades.
Typewriters in songs and ambient typewriter sounds are present throughout the 1985 movie Brazil.
The All Girl Summer Fun Band song "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Troublemaker" begins with the singer dictating the salutation of a letter while typing it, eventually deciding on the song's title. The number of keystrokes are entirely mismatched to the length of the words being spoken.
On an early Janis Joplin demo, featuring Jefferson Airplane & Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen on guitar, you can hear somebody, (uncredited, but rumored to be Grace Slick), typing in the next room, and Jorma commenting on the unintentional & obtrusive percussion.

Typewriters in music
Because of the tolerances of the mechanical parts, slight variation in the alignment of the letters and their uneven wear, each typewriter has its individual "signature" or "fingerprint", allowing a typewritten document to be tracked back to the typewriter it was produced on. In the Eastern Bloc, typewriters (together with printing presses, copy machines, and later computer printers) were a controlled technology, with secret police in charge of maintaining files of the typewriters and their owners. (In the Soviet Union, the organization in charge of typewriters was the First Department of the KGB.) This posed a significant risk for dissidents and samizdat authors. This method of identification was also used in the trial of Alger Hiss.
Leopold and Loeb were firmly identified with kidnapping after a typewriter they used to type up a ransom note was traced back to a typewriter they owned.
Black/white computer printers have their "fingerprints" as well, but to lesser degree. Modern color printers and photocopiers typically add printer identification encoding—a steganographic pattern of minuscule yellow dots, encoding the printer's serial number—to the printout.
Other forensic identification method can involve analysis of the ribbon ink.

Forensic identification
On the Sinclair ZX Spectrum game Jet Set Willy, holding down the keys that spell 'typewriter' let the player cheat.

Typewriters in popular culture
The section could be improved by integrating relevant items into the main text and removing inappropriate items.
The word 'typewriter', along with the words 'perpetuity', 'proprietor' and 'repertoire', are some of the longest words you can spell in English using only the top row of a QWERTY keyboard.
The word 'stewardesses' is the longest word you can spell in English using only the 'left hand letters' of a QWERTY keyboard.
Onomatopoeic words for the sound a typewriter makes include (in English): "clickety-clack" "clackety clack" and "clack clack".

See also

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