electronic typewriter

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electronic typewriter

[i′lek‚trän·ik ′tīp‚rīd·ər]
(computer science)
A typewriter whose operation is enhanced through the use of microprocessor technology to provide many of the functions of a word-processing system but which has at most a partial-line visual display. Also known as memory typewriter.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

memory typewriter

A typewriter that holds a few lines or pages of text in its memory. With only a small readout, memory typewriters provide limited word processing functions but may also serve to print boilerplate text. The first memory typewriters were introduced in the 1940s to create legal agreements containing a large amount of repetitive text. See boilerplate.

One of the First
In the 1940s, text was punched into player piano-like rolls for the AUTO-TYPIST. As the rolls passed over slots in a bar, a valve opened and negative pressure in a hose collapsed a small bellows that pulled down the typewriter key. (Image courtesy of TMC/Compco, Inc.)

The Typewriter/Perforator
Typing on this machine recorded the text by punching holes in the rolls. (Image courtesy of TMC/Compco, Inc.)

"The Ultimate in Automatic Typing"
Up until the mid-1970s, AUTO-TYPIST machines from the American Automatic Typewriter Company provided reliable document processing. (Image courtesy of TMC/Compco, Inc.)

word processing

The creation of text documents via computer. Except for labels and envelopes, word processing software has long since replaced the electric typewriter. Advanced word processors can function as elementary desktop publishing systems. Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing application (see Microsoft Word). WordPerfect and Google Docs are also widely used (see WordPerfect Office and Google Docs).

Basic Functions

Text Editing, Word Wrap and Centering
Text can be deleted, typed over or inserted, and words at the right margin wrap to the next line. Text can be centered between left and right margins.

Copy, Move, Search and Replace
Text can be copied or moved within the document, and any occurrence of text can be replaced with another block of text.

Layout Settings
Margins, tabs, line spacing, indents, font changes, underline, bold and italic can be set and reset anywhere within the document.

Headers, Footers and Page Numbering
Headers and footers are common text printed on the top and bottom of every page. Page numbering in Roman numerals may be available.

Templates/Style Sheets
A document layout (margins, tabs, fonts, etc.) can be stored in a template file (style sheet) and applied to a new document.

Print Preview
A document can be reviewed on screen to show exactly how it will print with page breaks, headers, footers, etc.

Spell Checker
Spelling can be checked on the fly, and common typos may be corrected automatically.

File Management
Documents can be duplicated, renamed and deleted, and folders can be created and deleted from within the program.

Advanced Functions

All word processors support columns with tab stops. However, true column capability for documents, such as resumes and theater scripts, wraps words within each column; for example, employer information on the left and work history on the right. Magazine-style columns are another structure that flows the words from the bottom of one column to the top of the next.

Desktop Publishing
Images merged into the document can be resized and anchored so they remain with that segment of text. Rules and borders can also be created on the page.

Footnotes and Endnotes
Footnote entries can be made at any place in the document, and the footnotes printed at the end of a page or document.

Tablesof Contents and Indexes
Tables of contents and indexes can be generated from entries typed throughout the document.

Math and Sorting
Columns of numbers can be summed and simple arithmetic expressions can be computed. Lines of text can be reordered into ascending (A-Z) or descending (Z-A) sequence.

Mail Merge
Creates customized letters from a form letter and a list of names and addresses. The list can be created as a document or can be imported from popular database formats.

A thesaurus displays synonyms for the word at the current cursor location.

Group Print
Documents can be printed individually or as a group with page numbers consecutively numbered from the first to the last document.

Graphics vs. Text Based

All software today is graphics based and shows an extremely close facsimile on screen of the document that will be printed. Graphics-based (GUI-based) software is essential for documents that contain a variety of font styles and sizes.

Earlier text-based DOS programs displayed the same type font and size all the time, and they were fine for typing letters and documents with a simple format. Even today, some authors still use DOS word processors running under Windows, because they are more responsive than GUI-based products and more than adequate for creative writing. See XyWrite.

Format Standards

Every major word processing program generated proprietary codes for layout settings. For example, in an old WordStar document, ^PB turned bold on as well as off. In WordPerfect, [BOLD] turns bold on, and [bold] turns it off.

Conversion programs translate documents from one format to another. If one does not exist for the required formats, multiple search & replace commands can be performed on the original. However, if the same code turns a mode on as well as off, as in the WordStar example above, the codes have to be changed manually one at a time.

The User Interface

Word processing programs have run from the ridiculous to the sublime, and some of the most awkward programs sold well. It may be difficult to tell a good one from a bad one in the beginning, because it takes time to explore a program's nuances. Also, what is acceptable to the slow typist can be horrendous for the fast typist.

Repetitive functions such as centering and changing display attributes (bold, italic, etc.) should be a snap. Changing margins, tabs, indents and fonts should also be easy.

The most important component in word processing has nothing to do with software. The keyboard is the primary interface between the user and the machine, and the feel of the keys is critical.

Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
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References in periodicals archive ?
According to the MIT article, more than 400,000 word processors and electronic typewriters were sold in 2002.
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Louis-based company with locations in Pine Bluff and Little Rock, likens the fast-evolving fax market to the advent of the electronic typewriters and the rapid changes that followed.
Simple electronic typewriters have some line-display and rudimentary word processing capabilities.
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Dataquest estimates the breakdown of those devices is 200,000 integrated voice/data workstations; 1.1 million word processors; 3 million electronic typewriters; 10.1 million alphanumeric terminals; and 9.4 million personal computers.

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