IBM MT/ST

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The IBM MT/ST (Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter) was a model of the IBM Selectric typewriter integrated with magnetic tape recording and playback facilities and built into its own small desk.[1] It was released by IBM in 1964.[2][3] It recorded text typed on 1/2" magnetic tape, 25 kilobytes per cassette tape,[1] and allowed editing and re-recording during playback. It was the first system marketed as a word processor.[3] Versions with two tape drives, besides vastly facilitating revision, enabled features such as mail merge.[3] An add-on module added a third tape station, to record the conbined output of playback from the two stations.

The MT/ST automated word wrap, but it had no screen, automated hyphenation (soft hyphens were available), or concept of the page; pages had to be divided and numbered by the human operator during playback. Instruction manuals taught the operator the importance of listening to the sounds of the machine during playback. The backsoace key backed up the tape so a character could be recorded over; there was also a true backspace code, which allowed overstruck characters, like á. Insertion capabilities were limited: one could insert while copying from one tape station to the other; on a single tape one null character per line was reserved for insertions. A "switch code" instructed the playback to switch to the other tape drive. In a cumbersome way, points on the tape could be marked and jumped to.

The MT/ST was not electronic; it implemented its functions through a bank of electromechanical relays.

The MT/ ST was followed by the Magnetic Tape Selectric Composer, which differed only in output device, and for which it served as input. (Tapes prepared or edited on the MT/ST could be played back on the MT/SC.) Thus automated line justification, with three type sizes (10, 12, and 15 characters per inch), bold, italic, and a variety of type styles (implemented using type "balls" similar to those of the Selectric typewriter) was made available within the budget of a medium-sized office or publisher.

In 1967, Jim Henson was contracted by IBM to produce and direct a short film on the MT/ST; the film, called Paperwork Explosion,[4] was scored by Raymond Scott.[3]

The MT/ST became obsolete in the 1970s in favor of floppy disk-based systems.[2] IBM discontinued support in 1983.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Eisenberg, Daniel (1992). "Word Processing (History of)" (PDF). Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (New York: Dekker) 49: 268–78. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  2. ^ a b Kunde, Brian (December 1986). "A Brief History of Word Processing (Through 1986)". Stanford University. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kafka, Ben (May 18, 2011). "Paperwork Explosion". West 86th. Bard Graduate Center. ISSN 2153-5531. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  4. ^ Paperwork Explosion on YouTube. The Jim Henson Company. Retrieved 2011-05-27