The typewriter stands as an iconic example of how technology has advanced and simplified processes over the decades. At one time, this device revolutionized office work.
Shorthand typewriters, book typewriters and teletypewriters became soon after introduced.
Bell Labs and MIT collaborated to design the time-sharing Multics computer system, featuring an electric keyboard with cathode ray tube display (VDT). This made computers easier for everyday use than previous teletype machines.
Once upon a time (since as far back as I can recall), people used devices known as “typewriters”. These were basically keyboards connected to printers that allowed the user to input text instantly printed out. Early models were mechanical while later electric models appeared. Typewriters made an impactful statement about women in work – particularly female workers – becoming highly sought-after professionals during an era when few women held such professions; their popularity also helped build momentum towards women’s suffrage campaigns and helped establish novelist careers – though their legacy lives on among a few fans today.
Sholes was responsible for creating one of the first typewriters, using parts from an old table, circular glass pieces, telegraph key and piano wire to construct his initial prototype. Over time he refined it further until creating something similar to what we know today as the modern typewriter. Other inventors also attempted to replicate this success story but none was as successful.
As typewriter demand increased, manufacturers developed features to enhance its functionality. One such device, created by Reverend Thomas Oliver in the late 1800s and known as an Oliver Typewriter (1878), allowed users to print both upper case letters and lower case letters using one key (1878). Tab keys allowed for setting margins and printing both sides of paper (1915), and shift keys helped relieve pinky finger strain (1922).
The IBM Selectric typewriter was revolutionary because it provided users with the ability to quickly correct typing errors on-the-fly. Utilizing its unique “Lift-Off” tape, users could virtually erase wrong characters with one press of a key on its unique “Lift-Off” tape. Furthermore, its advanced technology included a rotary correction lever which allowed for rapid corrections without having to retype an entire document.
In the 1950s, typewriters were modified to work with keypunch devices used to input octal numbers into early computer systems. Herman Hollerith designed his 1946 Eniac computer specifically with this keypunch technology; later Binac had one with an integrated typewriter keyboard unit used to read punch cards and feed in data.
The Teletype machine enabled instantaneous human-readable text transmission over long distances. With its QWERTY keyboard and ability to record messages onto paper tape for later retransmission, it proved invaluable in both military and commercial communications networks. Skilled teletype operators could quickly determine priority messages based on patterns of holes on their paper tape recording.
Early computer systems utilized teletype machines as input/output systems, using them to send typed data directly into the computer and print its response back out on paper. Teletype machines were often connected with punch cards or other control mechanisms used for mainframe and minicomputer operations; popular models like PDP-8, PDP-11 and DEC VT50 all offered teletypewriter mode capabilities on their mainframes and minicomputers.
Teletypes presented a distinct disadvantage when used with computers due to their slow speeds; typically they could only produce 10 characters per second and used much paper, not to mention being noisy and pushing keys was quite an effort, since each key needed to travel back and forth towards its impact head, which in turn drove type bars up and down on paper.
Companies began experimenting with computer terminals using CRT displays instead of paper output in the 1960s, coined “glass teletypes.” These early systems attempted to offer faster interaction speeds while cutting costs associated with paper waste; however, their costs weren’t yet competitive with traditional teletypes.
Many teletypes were equipped with punched tape readers and printers, making them effective tools for off-line storage and transmission of data. Teletypes were widely used until video displays became cost effective in the late 1970s as interactive timesharing terminals.
Teletype machines allowed users to enter commands after being presented with a prompt character on screen, which the machine would print out the results of after taking action on it. Cancelling entries was done through this system of controls; today this interface remains popularly used. Once video displays became affordable and replaced teletypes quickly.
At the dawn of computer data entry, keypunches became the go-to solution. Herman Hollerith developed and patented punch card devices similar to typewriters; eventually these evolved to include text and number input like that found on typewriters by 1930s.
A keypunch punches holes into stiff paper cards at specific locations determined by keystrokes from an operator, creating cards containing data for Hollerith machines or programs directing computer operation. Later models used a more advanced electrical encoding scheme assigning each key a hole pattern.
Example: Pressing a key in alpha mode (letters) or numeric mode (digits) causes its keypunch to use its encoding system to determine which punch holes to close and when. With numeric mode keys, for every column of alphabet letters that was closed by closing appropriate punches in one of two distinct patterns: A’s and G’s.
Keypunches use mechanical encoders to determine their patterns, while each key press triggers 12 metal “bail contacts” running perpendicularly across an permutation bar that runs vertically through it. Pressing keys causes a latch pull-bar to pull down, engaging a bail with one of 12 tabs on the permutation bar so its associated bail would engage with its tab on that permutation bar and close a contact between bail contacts and permutation bars.
Engaging these metal contacts triggered the appropriate solenoid to punch out holes in a card. Furthermore, this keypunch used a second set of contacts that closed when keys were depressed in numeric mode in order to close and punch different patterns of holes on cards.
This simple but clever mechanical encoding system was the core of IBM keypunches and verifiers until microprocessors arrived in the 1970s and could perform this function more efficiently. The 026 and 049 keypunches, UNIVAC 056 verifiers were all heavy machines with rounded corners and an Art Deco appearance; Raymond Loewy, famous for his railway passenger car design work of the 1940s and 1950s, had a hand in their external design which gave them their distinct appearance.
The computer keyboard is the main way most people access information in digital format and play online games (such as playing slot games on top casinos reviewed on Yoakim Bridge). While its roots lie with typewriters, several innovations have given way to its current form that make it a standard piece of equipment for entering data in our contemporary digital society.
At a time when being able to type quickly and accurately was regarded as highly desirable, the first commercially successful typewriters were introduced in the early 1900s. Christopher Latham Sholes invented one in 1868; shortly thereafter Remington Company mass marketed their initial models. Even as computers became more widely available, typewriters remained in use as an alternative device.
While teleprinters and key punches were precursors to computers, they were less user-friendly than electric typewriters. Teleprinters required users to enter data onto punched cards similar to what had been used with telegraph lines; inventors like Herman Hollerith developed these early forms of the computer which eventually led to keyboards of today.
However, the IBM Selectric model’s release in 1961 marked a true revolution in typing technology and heralded the dawn of personal computing. According to Dag Spicer of the Computer History Museum, part of its success may be attributable to IBM’s persistent focus on keyboard ergonomics – “IBM probably does more than anyone to find ergonomic solutions that work for everyone”, as he states. Furthermore, this device served as the baseline keyboard used in PCs small enough to bring into homes and offices.
As PC keyboards became increasingly popular, manufacturers began creating their own versions. Apple, Radio Shack and Commodore all produced computer keyboards designed specifically to complement their computers; typically these featured 100 to 120 reed switches each covered by a key that when pressed caused these switches to connect together and activate computer circuitry.