Typewriters and Word Processors

Considering they were originally invented in the 1800's, old-fashioned typewriters are enjoying a surge of popularity. Perhaps the original “device” for offices, manual typewriters helped speed up writing and made life and productivity more efficient. Many early typewriters are desk sized, but later portable typewriters possibly became the forerunners to the convenience of a laptop. A mainstay, it wasn't until the late 1970's/early 1980's that electronic alternatives started to appear.

What Is the Difference Between a Typewriter and a Word Processor?

The difference between a typewriter and a word processor is all about the innovations computerisation brought in with machines capable of having a memory. Old typewriters now, whether manual or electric fall into the vintage typewriter or antique typewriter category and as such are of interest to collectors and lovers of retro and memorabilia alike.

  • Manual Typewriters: With a manual typewriter, paper feeds through a roller on the machine as a single sheet. As you press each key, it activates one of a row of individual metal bars imprinted with single font characters to hit an inked typewriter ribbon. Early manufacturers include Remington, Olivetti, Imperial, Olympia and Triumph Adler.
  • Electric Typewriters: Early electric typewriters work in a very similar way. Writers need less effort to press keys, and many moved away from the inked ribbon to a type of tape. Rather than a row of keys, IBM moved to a small, metal ball with characters imprints. Early brands include IBM, Epson, Brother and Canon.
  • Word Processors: Word processors start to introduce memory functions and a daisy wheel design instead of metal fonts. Early models had enough RAM to retain one line at a time with options for correction before sending to print. Later models progressed to saving whole documents on floppy disk. Early brands include Brother, Canon and Sharp.

What Accessories Do You Need with a Typewriter?

Depending on the age and model of your vintage typewriter, there are some accessories you will need to enjoy the full experience of a functioning click clack typewriting machine!

  • Basic typewriter accessories to look for are ribbons, correction tape and paper.
  • Often antique typewriter owners will offer or buy a second machine for spare parts.