Some Typewriter Videos--Know Your Ancestors! [Times are minutes: seconds]
1943 Typing Course Demonstration--note her powerful keystrokes, necessitated by the machine's mechanism for swinging its type into the inked ribbon and the paper behind it. She is addressing an audience that is probably exclusively female, except for young creative writers who wanted to save money by learning to type their own manuscripts. Note also her early attention to posture and hand-position to avoid stress-induced paralysis, a major problem for "typing pool" employees who typed 8 to 10 hours a day. [Time= 1:29]
Royal Typewriter with mathematical symbols on keyboard (eBay sale demo)--without narration, this illustrates the various parts of the mechanism, including the keyboard with its "Shift" and "Backspace" keys, the type itself on the ends of the long thin hammers, the rotating inked ribbon reels, and the paper on its "platen" or rubber roller. The type, inked ribbon, and platen are taken from the printing press, but the keyboard is taken from the Teletype machine (about which, more later). The keys connect directly to type hammers or levers, each of which to the same point in the center of the typing space, as the ribbon unspools through the impact point and the paper platen moves beneath it, one character's width per stroke. The "QWERTYUIOP" keyboard was designed to slow typists' access to the most common keys (vowels above and to the left--assuming right-handedness) so as to prevent jams resulting from typing too fast. The musical accompaniment is Cab Calloway's signature tune, "Minnie the Moocher," recorded around the time this typewriter was manufactured (1931). [Time= 3:32]
IBM Selectric--the last major advance in mechanical typing (1961), the Selectric's type was located on a spinning ball which was electronically controlled from the keyboard. This eliminated the need for the typist to exert force on the keys to create darker type or to make multiple copies using "carbon paper" between the paper sheets. Each ball was covered by rows and columns of the letters of the alphabet, the arabic numerals, and special characters (*, &, 1/2, etc.), and the typewriter's mechanism moved the ball across the paper rather than moving the paper before the stationary type striking point. [Time= 1:07]
IBM Selectric's Digital-to-Analogue Converter--Bill Hammack demonstrates how the Selectric converted a digital code (00, 01, 10, 11, etc.) linked to each character's position on the spinning ball to the analogue motion of the ball tilting and spinning to present the proper character to the ribbon and to imprint that character on the paper behind it. [Time= 3:05]
IBM Selectric "Correcting" typewriter--this IBM commercial (ca. 1971) locates the technology socially (the typists were expected to be women, i.e., "secretaries") and generationally. The typist on the left, made-up in 1940s-50s hairstyle and dress with glasses, not the then more common contact lenses (before Lasik!), uses a liquid called "White-Out" to cover typing mistakes with a white surface for retyping, but she must wait until it dries. The typist on the right, in the then-fashionable Farah Fawcett hairdo, uses the Selectric's limited digital memory and the backspace key to type white letters (one half of each ribbon) to replace the mistyped characters.