While in most office settings the computer has replaced the typewriter as the office machine of choice, typewriters have a long and rich history in the arts, in homes and in the business world. Today, many people collect typewriters. Some people still use typewriters for writing at home, because they enjoy the sound and the tactile experience of the typewriter keyboard.
Mastering some typewriters key terms can help you if you want to collect or use typewriters. Learning typewriters key terms can help you understand the parts of the typewriter that you may eventually need to replace or repair. Understanding some basic key terms also can help you understand which typewriters you might want to buy for yourself.
TypewritersTypewriters are mechanical office machines that allow users to press a key and have a character imprint itself on a card or a paper. There are electrical as well as manual typewriters still in use, although these machines have become somewhat of a collector's item since the introduction of the computer.
The Classic Typewriter Page has an illustrated explanation of typewriters, as well as a history of the typewriter.
QWERTYQWERTY refers to the most often used keyboard arrangement of letters on typewriters (and many computers). QWERTY is named after the first letters to appear on the upper left side of the QWERTY keyboard.
The Great Idea Finder explains what QWERTY is and how it was invented.
Typewriter ribbonsTypewriter ribbons are narrow pieces of fabric that are soaked in ink. They are held taut in the typewriter and are moved back and forth. When a typist strikes a character on the typewriter keyboard, the ribbon is struck with a piece of metal, creating an imprint on the page.
Typewriter Ribbons has a useful definition of ribbons, as well as information about pricing and where ribbons can be found.
Upstrike keyboard typewritersUpstrike keyboard typewriters are an older design of typewriters in which the typebar -- the part of the typewriter that has the characters, which are attached to the keys -- moves up towards the typewriter ribbon.
The Virtual Typewriter Museum has a definition of upstrike keyboard typewriters, as well as images of such typewriters.
Carriage returnThe carriage return is a mechanism on a typewriter that allows the typist to move to the next line of the page and continue typing. On most typewriters, the carriage return mechanism consists of a lever on the side of the machine that can simply be pushed when the typist is ready to finish a line.
WiseGEEK has a detailed definition of the carriage return and why it was created for the typewriter.
Frontstrike keyboard typewritersIn frontstrike keyboard typewriters, the typebar rests in a down position, surges forward when a key is hit, and then falls back into place when the key is released. This sort of typewriter became common after 1900.
The Early Office Museum has an illustrated definition of frontstrike keyboard typewriters and compares these machines to other typewriter designs.