Talk:Typewriter

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Former featured article Typewriter is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on July 31, 2004.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
January 19, 2004 Refreshing brilliant prose Kept
October 10, 2007 Featured article review Demoted
March 28, 2010 Articles for deletion Speedily kept
Current status: Former featured article

One fingered shift lock[edit]

Unlike the today's Caps Lock, however, the Shift Lock was a two-key operation: Shift would be held down, and the Shift Lock (normally directly above) would be pressed simultaneously, triggering a simple lock mechanism.

This seems wrong to me - I have a few typewriters manufactured from the mid 30s through to the mid 60s and the shift lock mechanism on all of them can be operated with one finger by pressing down and forwards on the shift lock key. The downward motion presses the shift key and the forwards motion moves the key into the lock position. Is this common of all typewriters after a certain period, or do I just happen to be lucky? Ab irato (talk) 11:03, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
It seems that a ratcheting action is involved here, so that a very heavy carriage can be raised up with the ordinary Shift Lock, (as though one were needed before the former) and then, once the carriage is up, the Shift Lock can hold it in place. As carriages became lighter, the feasibility of single-finger action to hold the Carriage + Shift Lock down, became more feasible. 216.99.201.129 (talk) 15:01, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
In on my 1970s electric I can simply press the shift lock key down similar to the way a caps lock works on a computer keyboard, but still does the shift lock. You still need to press either shift key to release it. Kb3pxr (talk) 19:48, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

QWERTY from the beginning?[edit]

Since the begining, typewriters have used the QWERTY layout for keys that is used in most computers nowadays.

Is this true? It was my understanding that the original typewriters had problems with the keys clashing because the typists were too fast, and the QWERTY layout was designed to slow them down so the keys wouldn't jumble together. -- Zoe
That's what I've heard also. -- Marj Tiefert, Monday, July 8, 2002
same here. I also heard that the particular arrangement was chosen so the word "TYPEWRITER" could be typed with the top row keys, so salesmen could easily demonstrate. -- Tarquin, Tuesday, July 9, 2002
I've heard that too but it is apparently incorrect. I've searched pretty extensively and it does appear that the earliest typewriters used QWERTY keyboards. -- Erik
That is not quite correct - the QWERTY layout was chosen not to slow typists down, but so that the hammers for letters that occur together frequently in english were spaced apart from one another, and thus not jam so easily.
If you think how often you type "-er-" or "-re-", you can tell that this story about spacing characters apart is false. The book by Kouichi and Motoko Yasuoka (ISBN:978-4-7571-4176-6) goes all primary sources and debunks this kind of myths. This attack was largely spread by August Dvorak himself (but it appears in literature in 20s already and was not invented by himself). From the tone of his writing, you could almost tell that he doesn't have the evidence on it. Ohshimag3 (talk) 01:45, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
The combinations -er- and -re- are indeed common, and "e" and "r" are indeed next to each other on the QWERTY keyboard, but the corresponding typebars are *not* adjacent. This fact therefore does not debunk the "slowing typists down" theory. — Paul G (talk) 10:44, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

The early mass produced Sholes Glidden typewriters yes, but there were many other typewriters with completely different keyboard layouts. For instance, take a look at the Hansen writing ball of 1870 and the "New" Crandall model of 1886 here:

There were many others such as the The Dhiatensor keyboard, the round Lambert keyboard, etc. They all had wildly different layouts. Most of them can be seen at the the virtual typewriter museum at http://www.typewritermuseum.org but be warned, that the navigation on that site is quirky. --AlainV 02:37, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Dry correction products in the 1950s[edit]

In the section "Correction methods", it says that dry correction products were introduced in the seventies, but according to the BIC website about Tipp-Ex, the German company Tipp-Ex introduced a similar product in the 1950s. Was their product the same sort of 'dry correction product' that is mentioned in the article? Ae-a 20:03, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I seem to remember using small rectangular sheets to correct typing errors in the mid-sixties in the U.S. I also remember correction paper from about the same time: paper that could be corrected on (but I can't remember how it was done). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 211.225.34.158 (talk) 10:30, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

The correction feature on Selectrics[edit]

The article currently says:

The pinnacle of this kind of technology was the IBM Correcting Selectric. This machine, and similar products, incorporated a black/white ribbon and a character memory. With a single keystroke, the typewriter was capable of automatically reversing and overstriking the previous few characters with white cover-up.

I think this is wrong. Didn't the Selectric correcting ribbon actually lift-off the character from the page? That is, wasn't it an adhesive ribbon rather than a "cover-up" ribbon? It seems to me that when you replaced an exhausted ribbon, the white band was filled with all the duff characters. That was also the reason why the correcting ribbon wasn't recomended for legal documents; they could be ratrher-seamlessly altered ex-post facto. Does anyone else remember all this?

According to the correcting Selectric II manual both cover up and lift off tapes were available. [1] Kb3pxr (talk) 20:00, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Atlant 12:49, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

That's the way I remember it. It should be easy enough to find out -- either from IBM or at a typewriter museum. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 211.225.34.158 (talk) 10:33, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

This also wrong as the correction button worked as so. On keypress the typewriter backspaces, switches to the correction ribbon, and disables character spacing. The operator then must type the same character that was typed in error. The typewriter then switches back to normal operation and the operator can continue typing at the point the error was made. Full automation was not possible until the later electronic typewriters when the correction key would backspace, engage the correction ribbon, automatically print the error character again from memory using the correction tape, then return to normal mode. Some electronics had the capability to remove entire words or lines. Kb3pxr (talk) 20:00, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Article needs a diagram[edit]

This article needs a diagram; something like over at Personal_computer#Hardware. Typewriters are quite complicated in their mechanical operation, and a diagram could quickly and neatly explain what a great deal of the doodads are called, and so allow one to discover what they actually do. An annotated photo would do, but an clean svg diagram would be better. Anxietycello (talk) 13:53, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

This Wikibook may help! - Anxietycello (talk) 18:35, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Like this sort of thing? 82.32.140.74 (talk) 14:57, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Reason[edit]

It is written "Typewriters, however, remain in use in various areas of the world". Why  Jon Ascton  (talk) 06:24, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Typewriters are still used as they do not have the requirement of steady electrical power. Manuals require no electricity and electrics can gracefully handle a sudden power outage (worst case not striking the character at power cut or being cut off during return). In many parts of the world electricity is unreliable or unavailable and the only way to make typed documents is to use a typewriter. In places where power is available it may not be reliable or clean enough to operate a computer.Kb3pxr (talk) 20:06, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Stolen/dubious section[edit]

There's a section that's taken from www.kittanning.com/wwwboard/messages/560.html about James "Denny" Daugherty. The source is not quoted, the writing style is inappropriate for an encyclopedia, and the text is dubious at best. The section about 'ERTY' being from his name is reason enough to discredit the entire text. Christian Ankerstjerne (talk) 23:28, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

It's outta there. Good catch, Christian. How did you manage to find the source text? --ChetvornoTALK 01:25, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Got some good Google-Fu, combined with a knack for recognising plagiarised contents. Christian Ankerstjerne (talk) 14:53, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

I see 67.140.49.53 tried to restore that section. 67.140.49.53, I moved your information that the Daugherty was the first "visible text" typewriter to a more appropriate place, in the Frontstriking section. I feel that is the part of your addition that belongs in the article. I'm sorry to delete the rest, but the article is already too long. By the way, the idea that the top row key sequence "ERTY" was taken from the name "Daugherty" is a myth. The QWERTY keyboard layout originated with the Sholes and Glidden typewriter in 1868, long before the Daugherty machine came out in 1893. --ChetvornoTALK 03:28, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Third add on 25 August 2012‎ by IP 67.140.50.15 86.75.233.31 (talk) 20:59, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

3 august removal of original alphabetical order évidence[edit]

An example of a Cyrillic key layout on a Printing Telegraph Set built by Siemens & Halske in Saint Petersburg, Russia, ca.1900

I just trace here some text has been removed on 3 august by someone who appears to believe d'fgh'jklm is not the conson alphabetical order... when it is obvious it is!

And on next line, reverse order provides continuation: z'x?v?... nm.

This is enough alphabetical to understand it is obvious the original idea was based on the alphabetical order.

«The near-alphabetical sequence on the "home row" of the QWERTY layout (a-s-d-f-g-h-j-k-l) demonstrates that a straightforward alphabetical arrangement was the original starting point.[2]»

86.75.233.31 (talk) 20:43, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Moreover, the fact to move keys from one point to another suggest there was a previous layout... — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.75.233.31 (talk) 21:00, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Alphabetical order also appears in references provided by Talk:Keyboard_layout#History 86.75.233.31 (talk) 21:17, 7 September 2012 (UTC) yping four tildes (86.75.233.31 (talk) 22:04, 7 September 2012 (UTC)).

And original alphabetical order is ever more obvious with Giuseppe Ravizza http://uskebasi.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/macchina_da_scrivere/ (86.75.233.31 (talk) 22:04, 7 September 2012 (UTC)).

  1. ^ http://selectric.org/selectric/manualii/selectricii.pdf
  2. ^ David, P.A. (1986): Understanding the Economics of QWERTY: the Necessity of History. In: Parker, William N.: Economic History and the Modern Economist. Basil Blackwell, New York and Oxford.

Special characters in keyboard layouts[edit]

It would be nice to have some info on the placement of special characters (beyond [a-z0-9.,;:]) on various keyboards. Were the shift-number characters standardized? etc. --Macrakis (talk) 15:35, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Keyboards were usually standard within the same manufacturer, but not even the Selectric matches today's computer keyboards. As a general rule the alphabet keys, and numbers 2-9 were standard, the symbols did vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Typewriters (in the US) typically had symbols not commonly used with computers. These include ½, ¼, and ¢, these likely fell out of favor as ASCII coding did not support them. ASCII was only 7 bits and could only support 127 characters, with this they had to support the standard symbols needed for computers, numerals 0 through 9, both uppercase and lowercase letters, space, as well as control codes so the equipment knew when to backspace, delete, carriage return, line feed, ring the bell and many other things. Kb3pxr (talk) 20:23, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

On QWERTY being chosen to preventing keys from jamming[edit]

The article claims that the idea that QWERTY was used to avoid typebars from getting jammed has been "widely debunked". The supposed evidence in the first reference given ("Fact of [sic] Fiction? The Legend of the QWERTY Keyboard") is that the combination "er" is very common in English, so putting E and R next to each other on the keyboard would not help prevent jamming. However, the typebars for E and R are not adjacent, so this point does not support the author's argument. Furthermore, there is a peer-reviewed paper ([[1]]) that states that "a team of people spent one year developing this layout [QWERTY] so that it should provide the greatest inhibition to fast keying".

I think some closer examination of the primary sources needs to be done in order to determine what is factual and what is merely opinion or hearsay. — Paul G (talk) 10:55, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Looks like these people have failed to do their homework, since (according to the QWERTY article anyway) E and R were not originally next to each other. In fact the R was as far away from the E as it was possible to get. They only ended up together after Remington fiddled with the layout. 78.146.209.94 (talk) 21:51, 22 October 2015 (UTC)
That is a red herring. Type slugs jam at or near the paper surface, since they are all meant to strike the same spot. It makes no difference which type bars are adjacent in the basket while inactive. The issue is "inhibition to fast keying". Moreover, the qwerty layout puts very few common letters under the resting fingers of the home row, with the commonly used "A" under the left pinky, arguably the weakest finger of a right-handed typist. Just plain Bill (talk) 22:05, 22 October 2015 (UTC)
Bill, you're right as far as you go, but the issue is not just the last 1/4" before the slug strikes, but the whole of the travel. With close keys the bars start to interfere earlier in the action whereas widely spaced bars only interfere close to the paper. The consequence of this is that rapid typing is only effective if the bars are well separated, one stroke can then commence whilst the previous one is still returning. This problem was particularly noticeable on portable typewriters on which the return action could be a little sluggish. Good quality office typewriters more or less followed the finger up; similar to the comparison between a cheap upright piano and a Steinway grand. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:24, 22 October 2015 (UTC)
I understand and agree, Martin, but that is a second or third-order effect, and strays into the realm of pinhead angel dancing, in my view. My chief complaint with QWERTY, as one who spent a few years with the astonishingly comfortable ( == ergonomic) Dvorak keyboard layout, is that the most common letters (in English text, at least) are not under the srongest resting home fingers. Having experienced the difference, I have stopped caring about what reliable sources may be found on line about this subject. Whether the E and R type bars are or are not adjacent is not the tallest head of this dragon. Thanks for your attention, Just plain Bill (talk) 00:46, 23 October 2015 (UTC)
P.S. This is pretty much what I learned on at the age of eight. Not a Steinway or Bösendorfer, but it clacked and thumped along at a decent rate. Going back for a visit thirty years later, I was memorably struck by its familiar feel, the shift of the case and the throw of the carriage. temps perdu, and all that. JpB 01:54, 23 October 2015 (UTC)
I know what you mean by the feel of the case shift, particularly as it is on little fingers. I learnt on Dad's old long platen typewriter (bought in the 1950s from a junk shop) which could type stencils for a Gestetner in landscape format. I must have a look to see if I can find references to long platen types, they're not mentioned in the article and yet were the mainstay of school and church handouts for years. In the 1970s I was bought a portable for university, but later learnt to touch type on an Underwood - much the nicest of the three. As a kid I discovered that if you carefully pressed all the keys on one row you could jam the lot in the half-way position, much to Dad's annoyance! More seriously though, I am sure that on the Underwood I could achieve 50% increase in typing speed - the limit was my ability, whereas on the portable I regularly got jams. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 08:23, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

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