Word processors


Word processors

In the short space in history between the typewriter and the personal computer sits the electronic word processor – a common fixture in offices from the mid-1970s to about 1990.

They were like large typewriters in appearance and were a big improvement over their mechanical cousins.

The first use of the phrase "word processing" as a definite idea and concept is credited to company IBM in 1964 when marketing one of their electronic typewriters.

The keys of a dedicated word processing machine were more sensitive and took less effort to strike than those of a traditional mechanical typewriter, and the machines often had a tiny screen that would show the last few words an operator had typed. A short time lag during typing meant that it was possible for a typist to go back and correct an error within a few keys of making it – saving having to type the whole page again or remove it, get out the tippex, wait for it to dry, and try to insert the paper back exactly right to continue with the document.

These electric machines were quieter, too, and didn’t need manual carriage return.

Then the personal computer came into widespread use and dedicated typists became much rarer – with the important people finally having to do their own typing, albeit slowly, on their computer.

Further reading

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