The IBM Electric typewriters
were a series of electric typewriter
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed per keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the pieces...
s that IBM manufactured, starting in the mid-1930s. They used the conventional moving carriage and typebar mechanism, as opposed to the fixed carriage and type ball used in the IBM Selectric, introduced in 1961. After 1944, each model came in both Standard
versions, the latter featuring proportional spacing.
IBM typewriters had one feature lacking in many mechanical typewriters:The top row bore the digits 1234567890
; other typewriters generally omitted the 1
. The IBM design obviated the grotesque substitutions taught by many typing instructors: o
. These substitutions not only looked absurd when compared to an adjacent line typed with the digit keys that were there, they encouraged typists to confuse letters and numbers, even in speech.
IBM acquired the assets of Electromatic Typewriters, Inc., of Rochester, N.Y. in 1933 and invested $1 million in redesigning their product and setting up service centers. The new
IBM's Model 01 was introduced in 1935 and became the first successful electric typewriter in the U.S., according to IBM. major model introductions included:
| Model || Year
| IBM Model 01
The IBM Electromatic typewriter was the first electric typewriter to enjoy long-term commercial success. Unlike the later IBM Selectric typewriter, this typewriter model used a conventional moving carriage and typebar mechanism....
| IBM Model A
| IBM Model B
| IBM Model C
| IBM Model D
In the 1950s, modified standard versions of the A, B, and C models were used as console typewriters or terminals on many early computers (e.g., JOHNNIAC
The JOHNNIAC was an early computer built by RAND that was based on the von Neumann architecture that had been pioneered on the IAS machine. It was named in honor of von Neumann, short for John v. Neumann Numerical Integrator and Automatic Computer...
, IBM 1620
The IBM 1620 was announced by IBM on October 21, 1959, and marketed as an inexpensive "scientific computer". After a total production of about two thousand machines, it was withdrawn on November 19, 1970...
The PDP-1 was the first computer in Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP series and was first produced in 1960. It is famous for being the computer most important in the creation of hacker culture at MIT, BBN and elsewhere...
). The IBM Selectric typewriter
The IBM Selectric typewriter was a highly successful model line of electric typewriters introduced by IBM on July 31, 1961.Instead of the "basket" of individual typebars that swung up to strike the ribbon and page in a traditional typewriter, the Selectric had a type element that rotated and...
, introduced in 1961, was easier to interface to a computer and was favored in new designs, such as the IBM 1130
The IBM 1130 Computing System was introduced in 1965. It was IBM's least-expensive computer to date, and was aimed at price-sensitive, computing-intensive technical markets like education and engineering. It succeeded the IBM 1620 in that market segment. The IBM 1800 was a process control variant...
computer and the IBM 1050
IBM 1050 Data Communications System is a computer terminal subsystem to send data to and receive data from another 1050 subsystem or IBM computer in the IBM 1400, IBM 7000 or System/360 series. It first became available in 1963 and was used widely during the 1960s.-General:IBM 1050 Data...
IBM announced proportional letter spacing for typewriters in 1941, but IBM's World War II effort delayed the introduction of a typewriter model, the Executive
, with this capability until 1944. Standard typewriters have a fixed letter pitch, so, for example the letter "i" occupies the same space as the letter "m". The Executive model differed in having a multiple escapement mechanism and four widths for characters, allowing it to simulate 12 point
In typography, a point is the smallest unit of measure, being a subdivision of the larger pica. It is commonly abbreviated as pt. The point has long been the usual unit for measuring font size and leading and other minute items on a printed page....
In typesetting, justification is the typographic alignment setting of text or images within a column or "measure" to align along both the left and right margin...
' typesetting. A skilled typist, by carefully counting letters on each line, could even produce fully justified layouts on the Executive.
According to Darren Wershler-Henry,
In 1944, IBM launched the Executive, a proportionally spaced typewriter. Characters on the Executive typewriter occupied between two and five units per grid cell, depending on the width of the letter. Beeching relates an anecdote that demonstrates the significance of this achievement. The proportionally spaced typewriter immediately leaped to the apex of the world bureaucracy and administrative culture when President Roosevelt was presented with the first machine off the line. The Armistice documents that ended World War Two were typed on an IBM, as was the original United Nations Charter. To a world accustomed to monospaced typewritten documents, a page of typewriting produced with an Executive...was indistinguishable from a page of typeset text. Prime Minister Churchill allegedly responded to Roosevelt that "although he realized their correspondence was very important, there was absolutely no need to have it printed."