What Are Parts And Function Of The Typewriter?

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Michelle Barber answered
A typewriter is a machine that enables alphabetical and numerical characters to be printed, one by one onto a medium, usually paper. 

There many early innovations of the typewriter, across Europe and America, perhaps the earliest was in 1714 by Henry Mill who filed a patent in Britain for a machine that “impressed or transcribed letters, one after another, as in writing”.

Commercial production of typewriting machines did not happen until 1870, when the Hansen Writing Ball became the first commercially sold typewriter.  This invention had the characters placed on short pistons that went directly through the ball, imprinting on the paper beneath.

It is a commonly held belief that experiments to achieve the fastest writing speeds through placing the most frequently used letters in the reach of the fastest writing fingers, produced the familiar QWERTY arrangement, English language keyboards use today.  However, this is not a particularly efficient key layout and no definitive explanation has been found for the implementation of the QWERTY keyboard, but is likely to have its roots established in reducing internal clashing and jamming of the typebars when typing at speed.

By 1910, the design of the typewriter had been largely standardised, varying only by manufacturer.  Most designs followed the principle of a key, attached to a typebar, with the corresponding [reversed] character at its head.  The typebar struck the inked ribbon, imprinting itself onto the paper which would be wrapped around a cylindrical platen, mounted on a carriage that moved left or right. Each time a key was pressed, the carriage would horizontally advance the typing position one space each time. At the end of each row of type, the typewriter platen would be automatically moved vertically and moved to the left by operation of the carriage return lever.

A Shift key was a considerable addition to the typewriter. This enabled a different set of characters to be used in addition to the standard set, by “shifting” the character set to be used.  This facilitated upper/lower case and punctuation characters to be used. 

The Shift key required greater effort to be depressed and was operated by the little finger, usually the weakest finger on a hand. Because it was harder to maintain the depression of the key for any more than a few keystrokes, the Shift Lock key was introduced, allowing the alternative set of characters to be used for an unlimited period of time without effort.

The design of typewriters essentially changed very little, however, the introduction of electric typewriters revolutionised the physical effort required to produce a document.

Typewriters enjoyed a long period of prosperity until the late 20th century, when personal computers became more readily available to business and the general public. Word processing quickly became the norm and typewriters decreased in popularity in the western world, although, in 2009, the New York Police Department were still known to use electric typewriters to complete property and evidence vouchers on carbon paper forms.

Parts of a typewriter

Carriage - moving part at the top of a typewriter that carries the paper

Carriage Return - lever located on the right of the carriage, used to return the carriage to the start of a new line. Automatically raises the line of type, so that the keys are aligned in the correct place for the next line of type.

Carriage Release - lever at the end that releases the carriage so it can be manually moved by hand

Typebars - the metal arms that move when a key is depressed, so that the head strikes the ribbon, imprinting the character onto the paper

Key - the part the finger presses to move the key arm, in order to create the corresponding printed character

Line Space Lever - controls the amount of space between lines

Platen - hard rubber roller, which the paper revolves around

Platen knob - handle at either end of platen to manually adjust the position

Paper guide - paper is placed against this to keep it in place

Left/Right Margin Stop- guide used to adjust the position of the left and right margins.

Printing-point Indicator - the point where the character will be placed when the key is struck

Bail Arm - moveable bar that clamps the paper to the cylinder

Paper Release - loosens paper to allow straightening or removing

Ribbon spool - an inked piece of material, formed into a long ribbon, wound onto a spool, that sits between the keyhead and the paper and which creates the typed character on the paper when the keyhead strikes the ribbon

Space bar - moves carriage forward one space at a time

Backspace Key- moves carriage back by one space at a time

Tab Set Key- places a tab stop at a designated point on the carriage

Tab Bar - releases the carriage so it moves to where a tab stop has been set

Tab Clear Key- removes a previously-set tab stop

Margin release - unlocks the margin stop

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