What Does Typewriter Mean?

A typewriter is a hand-operated mechanical device with which on typing keys can produce printed characters on paper. There are different types of typewriters, including mechanical typewriters, electric typewriters and electronic typewriters. With the advent of personal computers and laptops, typewriters are rarely used anymore, although the QWERTY keyboard layout, which was designed for typewriters, is still used in most devices.


Techopedia Explains Typewriter

In a standard typewriter, each key is associated with a typebar which in turn has the letter molded in reverse onto its head. When the user strikes the key, the typebar goes into motion and hits the printing ribbon, placing a printed mark on the paper. The paper is inserted into the typewriter with help of a cylinder which in turn is mounted on a carriage. Every keystroke horizontally advances on the same line to the next character. A carriage return lever is used to bring the carriage to the beginning of the line as well as to vertically roll up the paper by one line.

Typewriters have some distinct advantages. Mechanical typewriters do not need a power supply, and produces easily legible documents. It is very economical to use, as it makes use of a reusable ribbon. The typed documents cannot be corrupted or modified, as the printing is permanent. Unlike other electronic devices like a computer, it does not lead to eyestrain, even when working for prolonged hours.

However, typewriters cannot easily create more than one copy at a time. Except with electronic typewriters, typing mistakes are permanent, but can be removed with help of correction fluid, as opposed to a computer where backspace or delete key can be used to remove the mistake.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.