The correcting feature of typewriters is not what I thought

The correcting feature of typewriters is not what I thought

I was really taken aback when I learned how this works.

Links ‘n’ stuff
The Engineer Guy’s video explaining the Selectric mechnism
(It also has way better high-speed footage!)

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41 Responses

  1. Technology Connections says:

    I know, forgive me, the typewriter in the thumbnail ain’t the one that does the correcting. It’s just far prettier! It’s also brown.
    Here’s The Engineer Guy’s great video on the Selectric:

  2. rocbolt says:

    In high school there was a specific state sponsored college scholarship that *required* the application form to be filled out with a typewriter. Our school post-secondary counselor dug one out of storage for the dozen or so of us that wanted to apply to line up and use in the school office area. The whole afternoon teachers wandered by and were staggered by the anachronistic _tack tack tacking_ going on in the corner. And yay that was twenty years ago now! Wonder how long that typewriter requirement hung on, and how much it was the wishes of an eccentric millionaire vs a quirky test of ones ability to find and utilize disappearing hardware…

    • Toby Mcshane says:

      @Marek Lewandowski But could you play midi files through it and use it as a bad speaker system? I think not, there is something the dot matrix printer will forever hold its throne on. Even if its not a patch on laser quality.

    • KB says:

      Call upon Jesus Christ

      Turn to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ died for our sins and God raised Him from the dead on the 3rd day. He loves us more than anyone. He created us and loves us. Call upon His name! Heaven and Hell are real places. We need to repent and turn to Him.

      “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38-39 KJV

      “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 KJV

      “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36 KJV

      “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 KJV

      “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:9-13 KJV

      “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrew 9:27-28 KJV

      “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:35-40 KJV

      “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:28-31 KJV

      “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 KJV

      “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
      Romans 10:9-13 KJV

      “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:5-6 KJV

      “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:13-20 KJV

      “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
      2 Philippians 2:4-11 KJV

      “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:1-21 KJV

      “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” John 20:24-31 KJV

    • XxDemon23xX says:

      @SuperFunkmachine Sorry I cant understand what you mean by “If your 30 have to use a typewriter”, is there a mistake or am I not understanding something?

    • Mild Misanthrope says:

      @RaymondHng Yes, and I appreciate the appreciation for the overlooked and neglected. I recall reading or watching a report on them, justifying that in case of _The Big One_ (the supposedly inevitable superquake that will destroy San Francisco and according to the more sensational Discovery Channel programs: sink the whole West Coast into the Pacific Ocean like the plot of Superman II) it will be useful to have as a backup communications system. I am a bit skeptical believing if all other avenues of telecommunications would fail in the disaster, that dilapidated network would still miraculously function.

      I have to thank Journey for their part in saving the Cable Cars which wasn’t just holding onto our history, and postcard aesthetics. They’re also major source of revenue for the City. All day long you see them packed with tourists even during lockdown. I was lucky enough to have had my earlier years in a rent controlled apartment overlooking the Cable Car Museum and Powerhouse just a block away, and my Grandma (who passed last year at the age of 103) took me there almost daily. And we were maybe some of the few lucky locals to ride it semi-regularly as I rode it to school early in the mornings to Spring Valley back when it was covered by a standard Muni Fast Pass. (The operator used to let me ring the bell for them when it was clearly stated no one else was supposed to ring the bells.)

    • Miles Carter says:

      @Topher The11th airgapped with an immutable file system? Not much. But they are shockingly easy to infiltrate and it is hard to tell when they are infected. Neve rmind that companies like Sony would install rootkits when you loaded a CD.

      I seriously recommended burning an offline bootable anti-virus scanner and checking any XP system. At least have it for later. Also 4GB of ram max, less than that is addressable due to DMA for peripherals.

  3. invisibledave says:

    When I was in middle school for typewriting class, they had removed the white-out strip so you couldn’t undo things. I learned that the typewriter had an undo letter and an undo line feature. Since there was no white-out strip, if you hit undo, the keys would use the ink strip and make the letter on the paper. I then realized the ingenious thing about the undo line, I could use it to cheat.
    When the teacher made us sit and type the same long sentence over and over again while she walked around checking on us, I would just slowly type it the first time and then manually scroll the wheel down one notch and hit undo line. The typewriter would then re-type the entire line for me really fast. I would repeat these steps until I was at the end of the page. The teacher thought I was the fastest typer in the entire class. The trick was just to make sure to not make a mistake on the first line.

    • cyberblah says:

      @Helium Road The story goes that my great-uncle raised his hand when his group was asked “can anybody here type?” and was put on the staff of a senior officer and so was in the crowd on the deck of the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered.

    • Linux Ninja says:

      @Helium Road I was one of those unlucky few selected to do the Yeoman’s job – and I did it well since I could type.

    • Armchair Pilot says:

      @Kelly Grabill ya tell me about it, my elderly mother can do everything on her iPhone, but use a mouse on a computer, pft forget about it. “Son, what is double click”? Lol

    • Kelly Grabill says:

      @Helium Road and we’ve now come full circle. Nobody uses a keyboard except PC gamers and old people without smart phones.

    • Helium Road says:

      The funny thing is that we used to have actual typing classes in school until at least the early 90s. In the military in the 1980s and early 90s, if you knew how to type you kept it to yourself because you’d get stuck filling out paperwork instead of doing whatever your job was supposed to be. The average person did not know how to type until suddenly everyone had a computer in their house.

  4. Jelmer L says:

    This was insanely interesting! To be honest, whenever you returned from a tangent I felt a little bit sad, I’d watch an hour of in-depth video on obsolete writing machines without a doubt!

  5. H. L-A says:

    I realise writing actual subtitles and not just relying on Google’s auto thing probably takes a lot of time and I just want to say, once again; Thank you So much for yet another awesome video with actual subtitles! ♡ it truly makes a huge difference!

  6. ToeBeanz says:

    Please please tell us so much more on typewriters, I’ve always loved the look and feel of them and now knowing there are correcting ones I really want one. If you could possibly review modern typewriters on the market today that would be an absolute blessing

    • ToeBeanz says:

      @Marck Miller royal seems to have two models in current production and there are one or two other brands that make seemingly identical ones to what appears to be the more popular model from royal so a review of them still wouldn’t be very interesting since there’s not really any diversity

    • Marck Miller says:

      @Jared Maddox No, there’s currently produced ones, as noted in the video. I think Royal makes one.

    • Jared Maddox says:

      Well, I don’t think there are actually “modern” typewriters at all (Smith-Corona themselves seem to have become a printer company), but if you’re fine with 90’s era (or 2000’s era maybe, since I think that’s when Smith-Corona switched over) then you can just patrol the local thrift shops for a while. I have both a Smith-Corona Coronet (an “electric” typewriter, because it’s a motor-assist model) and some budget model electronic one (electronic because, unlike the electric one, it actually has logic onboard… via a microprocessor, but it’s short enough on feature that the processor is just a detail).

    • Pocket Fluff Productions says:

      I spent all of five seconds thinking “That’s a thing???” before remembering that Kids These Days think cassette tapes are cool again so I really shouldn’t be surprised.

  7. gudenau says:

    “The only thing better than perfect is standardized!” is an amazing quote.

    • Aryaman Singh says:

      @Rev_dude there’s no reason why staggered is worse than octilinear. If you want you can now buy keyboards that are nice and symmetrical, they look better but I highly doubt you’ll notice a speedup.

    • Syynx says:

      Absolutely a quote you’d get presented for some tech tree in the Civilization games

    • Jason Osmond says:

      The quote is amazing because it perfectly encapsulates the truth. Perfection is subjective, and will never be agreed upon. A standard may never be perfect, but by definition, it is by consensus objectively good enough.

    • Helium Road says:

      @Rev_dude Staggered QWERTY is bad for who? Once you get used to it you can type redonkulously fast. Change it and suddenly NOBODY knows how to type anymore. This is example of when standards are good.

    • Rev_dude says:

      Valid points but row staggered QWERTY is objectively bad. I know it will not happen for as long as keyboards still exist, but we need a better standard

  8. Mary Jordan says:

    My first typewriter was from my aunt who used it in the 1940’s. I typed most of my college papers on it(so did my sister). It was a big black hulking thing with a large carrige bar. My next typewriter was a processor type from the late 1980’s. I’ll be 74 next September and the typewriter you first plunked down was my dearest wish in the 1960’s that I didn’t get. Your video brought alot of memories. Thanks!😊

  9. TheGiantPotato says:

    Honestly even if this video was three full hours, I’d still watch it all. All of your ramblings are just so incredibly interesting and no matter for how long they go on I don’t get bored by them. They just keep getting more interesting if anything, as you go deeper into the sophisticated engineering of whatever it is you’re talking about at that moment.

  10. fixnoamoi says:

    Fascinating! I got one of those electronic typewriters for Christmas when I was a child (around 1990) and I was using the backspace/correction key regularly. I also always thought it was some kind of correctional tape slapped over the letter, but I remember perceiving the “deleted” characters on the paper (the physical impression of the key). The only thing I hated was that when I pressed Return, the memorized letters were obviously deleted from memory and I always wondered why I couldn’t just crank back to the previous line and slap over the correctional tape. Thanks for solving this puzzle after more than 30 years!

    • Jared Maddox says:

      @greenaum : Mostly you just typed slow enough to keep track of what you were doing. Also, going back with a red pen to mark changes and then retyping the fixed version was a thing done by those that made lots of mistakes, no big deal, especially since the original was probably handwritten with pencil (easier to do corrections) instead of being typed from the start. As for the LCD versions, some of those are refered to as “word processors”, and seriously do have something roughly comparable to a 1990 version of MS Word running onboard- the most extreme versions were just home computers with a cut-down feature set and most or all programs in on-board ROM (some supported cartridge expansions for software).

    • greenaum says:

      The little onboard computer in that must have had RAM of something like 128 bytes. Call it 80 for a line of text and 48 for housekeeping and remembering things like if underline is turned on. Some microcontrollers came with about that much RAM, or else you could get I/O chips with RAM on board. The Atari 2600 uses one for all it’s RAM, all 128 bytes of it.

      I imagine those little 16-character LCD typewriters were a nightmare to use. Shame it couldn’t keep the letters in RAM after you pressed Return, until you started to type something else. Or else a FILO buffer where old characters are deleted one at a time as new ones are typed in. Just in case you need them.

    • Foam says:

      Hooray for decades-old mysteries being solved!

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