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instrument for producing by manual operation characters similar to those of printing. Corresponding to each key on the instrument's keyboard is a steel type. Activated through a series of levers or an electronic impulse when its key is pressed, the type strikes the paper in the machine through an inked ribbon; the carriage holding the paper then automatically moves, providing space for the next character. The first recorded patent for a typewriter was taken out in England by Henry Mill in 1714. In the United States the typographer of William Austin Burt, patented in 1829, was the first practical writing machine. An improved French machine appeared in 1833. The early models were chiefly for the blind and produced embossed writing. A practical commercial machine invented in the United States in 1867 by Christopher Latham Sholes and his associates, Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soulé, was manufactured by Philo Remington and placed on the market in 1874. This early model had only capital letters. A shift-key model, permitting change of case, appeared in 1878. The electric typewriter, which allowed greater speed with less effort than a manual machine, came into use c.1935. The Selectric, introduced by International Business Machines (IBM) in 1961, replaced the usual type bars with a metal globe that moved across the surface of a stationary paper holder, replacing the moving carriage of the traditional typewriter; interchangeable globes provided a variety of typefaces and special symbols, allowing a single typewriter to be utilized for scientific writing, foreign languages, or other uses. The globe was later replaced by the daisy wheel, which spins the proper type into position. These innovations have allowed typewriters to become versatile printing instruments, capable of storing entire documents before printing, identifying and correcting errors as they arise, and connecting to computers. Nonetheless, the typewriter was almost completely superseded by personal computerspersonal computer
(PC), small but powerful computer primarily used in an office or home without the need to be connected to a larger computer. PCs evolved after the development of the microprocessor made possible the hobby-computer movement of the late 1970s, when some computers
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 using word-processingword processing,
use of a computer program or a dedicated hardware and software package to write, edit, format, and print a document. Text is most commonly entered using a keyboard similar to a typewriter's, although handwritten input (see pen-based computer) and audio input (as
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 software and printers by the mid-1990s; the machines are still used for specialized printing functions. Other forms of typewriters included the stock ticker, which recorded its message on a narrow strip of paper, and the teletypewriter, which transmitted typing over an electric circuit such as the telephone or telegraph.



a device for printing texts by making standard representations of symbols such as letters and numbers. In most typewriters, the printed character is produced when the paper is struck through an inked ribbon by a type-bar or spherical or cylindrical head covered with raised (convex) characters. The maximum typing speed, which is limited by human physical capabilities, ranges from seven to ten characters per second.

Typewriters are classified as office machines. There are several kinds of typewriters, categorized according to their purpose: travel, portable, office, composing, and special typewriters. Used primarily by journalists, travel typewriters are small and lightweight. Portable typewriters, which are larger than travel typewriters, are designed for general use. Office typewriters are used for high-volume, professional typing of texts and tables. Unlike office typewriters, composing typewriters have a typeface that resembles print, and they are equipped with variable spacing and with a mechanism that widens or compresses the spaces between letters. Composing typewriters are used to prepare texts for duplication by small-job printing equipment. Special typewriters include machines with several typefaces—single-keyboard machines with changeable typefaces (for example, the Russian, Latin, or Greek alphabet) and double-keyboard machines with basic and supplementary (interchangeable) typefaces. Also among the special typewriters are flat-bed machines for printing characters on drawings or texts in already bound documents. In addition, there are typewriters for printing special symbols—for example, stylized typefaces for computers, musical symbols, and the raised or embossed characters of the Braille alphabet for the blind. Stenographic machines are also classified as special typewriters.

The principal components of the typewriter are the printing mechanism and the keyboard. Depending on how they are powered, typewriters are classified as manual (mechanical) or electric. The printing mechanism is operated by means of a keyboard equipped with keys for letters, numbers, punctuation marks, mathematical symbols (+, %, =), and auxiliary characters (brackets, fractions, and hyphen, for example), as well as keys that control the register (the shift key), the tabulator, and the shifting of the carriage (left and right). The most frequently used keys are usually placed in the center of the keyboard. The number of keys and the kind of characters depend on the purpose of the machine. Thus, a typewriter for Braille includes six to ten characters; a Russian- or Latin-alphabet typewriter, 42–46 characters; and a Japanese or Chinese typewriter, several thousand ideographs.

The typewriter has a carriage with a roller (platen) to set and secure the paper, a spacing mechanism to shift the carriage or printing head the width of a single character, a mechanism for shifting from lowercase to uppercase (and vice versa), and a mechanism for moving the ribbon. The tabulator, which makes it possible to move the carriage automatically to certain points relative to the printing mechanism, is useful in typing tables.

As early as the 16th century, there were attempts to mechanize writing. The first patent for a writing machine was issued to the English inventor H. Mill in 1714, but the first writing machine was built in 1867 by C. L. Sholes, S. W. Soule, and C. Glidden (USA). On the basis of this machine, the Remington Company (USA) began the batch production of typewriters in 1873. In 1903 the Underwood Company (USA) developed a typewriter that was highly convenient for production and use— the prototype of the modern typewriter. The first Soviet typewriters, the Ianalif’s, went into batch production in 1928. During the 1960’s and 1970’s several hundred models of manual and electric typewriters of various brands were in production all over the world: in the USSR, the Moskva, Ukraina, Bashkiriia, Gorizont, and MPK-1; in the German Democratic Republic, the Optima, Optima-electrik, and Erika; in Czechoslovakia, the Konsul; in Bulgaria, the Maritsa; in the USA, Remington, Underwood, IBM, and Smith-Corona; in Italy, Olivetti; in Switzerland, Facit; and in the Federal Republic of Germany, Olympia, Adler, and Triumph. Automatic typewriters were developed in the 1950’s.

Improvements in typewriters, which were stimulated primarily by a desire to increase the labor productivity of typists and improve the quality of typing, took a new direction with the development of computer technology. Many electronic computers are equipped with data input and output devices based on typewriters. World production of typewriters is growing steadily, with a trend toward the manufacture of an increasing proportion of electric typewriters.


Alferov, A., and T. Shakirov. Technicheskie sredstva zapisi informatsii. Frunze, 1971.
Burtsev, V. V., and E. B. Kaplan. Sredstva orgtekhniki (spravochnikkatalog). Moscow, 1971.
Alferov, A. V., I. S. Reznik, and V. G. Shorin. Orgatekhnika. Moscow, 1973.



(graphic arts)
A machine that produces printed copy, character by character, as the typewriter is operated; essential parts are an input keyboard, a set of raised characters, inking means, a platen, and a mechanism for advancing the position at which successive characters are imprinted.


A mechanical or electromechanical device that is used to print text on a paper document. Although there were various typewriter-like devices created throughout the 1800s, the first typewriters with a carriage that moved the paper to the next character location began to emerge in the 1870s. The first commercially successful machine was the "Sholes & Glidden Type Writer" made by the Remington Arms company in Ilion, NY from 1874 to 1878. The QWERTY keyboard was created in that same time frame.

Electric and Selectric
Greatly reducing the effort it took to produce a typewritten page, electric typewriters were introduced by Remington and IBM in the 1920s and 1930s, still using the horizontal moving carriage.

In 1961, IBM revolutionized the typewriter world with the introduction of its golf ball-like Selectric type wheel. Allowing the machine to reside in less desk space, the platen only moved the paper to the next line, while the type ball was moved across the page. Balls came with different typefaces and could be easily switched to change fonts. For an enchanting collection of old typewriters, visit www.typewritermuseum.org.

High Tech in the 1890s!
Considered the first portable typewriter, George Blickensderfer created this beauty in 1893. (Equipment courtesy of Dorothy Hearn.)

The Selectric "Golf" Ball
Selectric typewriters were office workhorses for decades. This type element sits in a 33-year old Selectric II still going strong in 2013, probably because the machine was professionally cleaned every five or six years.

Going Strong in the 2010s
This photo was taken in 2012 at the Mesa Typewriter Exchange in Mesa, Arizona. Not only are people still having typewriters repaired, but some young adults are actually purchasing them to write on. (Image courtesy of Mesa Typewriter Exchange.)
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Security managers may want to institute a policy of random typewriter ribbon testing, which can reveal the illegal dissemination of business secrets.
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Launched as a typewriter ribbon company in 1988, Ribbons Express has grown into a printer and networking services and supply company housed in a 15,000-square-foot facility in Cherry Hill, N.
Mr Hain had gone out that morning to buy typewriter ribbon, parking his VW Beetle on a yellow line outside WH Smith, but he had never been near the bank.
Use a fabric typewriter ribbon when issuing manual checks.
Down the hatch into consumer history also go categories like wooden toys and typewriter ribbon makers.
CAN you help me find a typewriter ribbon for a Brother typewriter, model golf super 7300?
III-18 Table 90: US Exports of Pencils and Crayons; Pencil Leads; Pastels, Drawing Charcoals, and Chalks (2013 & 2014): Percentage Share Breakdown of Export Value by Country of Destination (includes corresponding Graph/Chart) III-18Table 91: US Imports of Pencils and Crayons; Pencil Leads; Pastels, Drawing Charcoals, and Chalks (2013 & 2014): Percentage Share Breakdown of Import Value by Country of Origin (includes corresponding Graph/Chart) III-19 Typewriter Ribbons and Ink Pads III-20 Table 92: US Exports of Typewriter Ribbons and Ink Pads (2013 & 2014): Percentage Share Breakdown of Export Value by Country of Destination (includes corresponding Graph/Chart).
Typewriter ribbons, if made from nylon, can be used in a number of ways after their writing careers have faded.
In 1960, soon after Soviet writer Vasily Grossman had completed his epic novel Life and Fate, the KGB raided his apartment and seized all copies of the manuscript they could find, as well as notebooks and even typewriter ribbons.
If you're under 40, however, you probably have never installed typewriter ribbons or used while correction liquid.
The walls are covered in shelves and peg boards holding repair manuals, typewriter ribbons and bins of parts.