Originally developed to help the blind write, the first practical typewriter, with the QWERTY keyboard, was invented by Christopher Sholes and patented on July 14, 1868. After inventing the typewriter, Sholes abandoned the product, selling the patent that ended up in the hands of E. Remington and Sons, who made it a commercial success. Today, typewriters are rarely used or found and are widely replaced by the computer with its computer keyboard and word processors. However, the QWERTY keyboard layout is still used on almost every US keyboard.
What makes a computer better than a typewriter?
Below is a list of the top reasons why a computer using a text editor or word processor is better than a typewriter. We ordered this list from the most significant reasons to the least significant reasons.
Ability to edit
If you make a mistake or want to change how something is written, you can edit the document. It's difficult or impossible to make edits on a typewriter. Also, if a single character or word needed to be inserted, it would need to be re-typed on a typewriter. On a computer, the mouse cursor or arrow keys are used to select any point in the text.
Cut, copy, move, and paste
In addition to making minor edits or corrections, a computer allows the user to cut, copy, move, and paste any amount of text. For example, if you thought a paragraph would be better at the top of a document, it could be easily moved. On a typewriter, you'd need to re-type the entire page if you wanted to change the page layout.
Also, a computer supports the ability to copy and move text from other sources. For example, you could copy the text from this web page and paste it in your document. With a typewriter, you'd need to re-type any text you wanted to copy.
Ability to save
A computer can save a document as a file that can be re-opened later, copied, or sent to another computer. A typewriter only makes a hard copy, and although that hard copy could be modified later, it'd be more difficult than a computer. Also, with a computer, you can save multiple revisions of a page as different files. A hard copy cannot be duplicated, unless it was photocopied in a photocopier.
Spellcheck and thesaurus
Computer word processors have spellchecking tools that can detect spelling and grammar errors and give you suggestions on how to spell words. Also, most word processors have a built-in thesaurus to help look up the meaning of words and find synonyms.
Easier to view
Computer screens make it easier to see what was typed and get different overviews of a page. With a typewriter, you can only see what was typed in a font size similar to what you'd find in a book. Also, with some typewriters, it may be difficult to see all portions of the page unless it's ejected or manually moved. Additionally, a computer screen allows the user to type in the dark with no additional light source.
Doesn't require paper or toner
For a typewriter to work, it requires toner and paper. A computer, on the other hand, only needs paper and a printer if the user wants to print what was typed. Otherwise, they can store everything digitally.
Allow for different fonts
Computers can have thousands of different fonts available for use. If you don't like a font, you can highlight the text and change the font without having to re-type the text in a different font.
Provide better layout options
Computers offer many more options than a typewriter with the layout of a page. With a computer, you can align and indent text easier, place text in tables, or wrap text around other objects on a page automatically. With a typewriter, you're required to make adjustments to the paper or the print head to position or align text, usually resulting in a poorly designed layout.
Allow graphics to be inserted
Typewriters only allow for letters, numbers, and other basic characters and symbols to be inserted. On a computer, you can insert clip art, pictures, and videos in a document.
Access to the Internet
A computer that's connected to the Internet has an endless supply of information. If, while typing on a computer, you need to research a topic, you can open a browser and find answers to questions almost immediately.
Advantages of a typewriter
Although there are more advantages to using a computer, there are still some advantages a typewriter has over a computer. Below are some advantages and reasons why someone might still want to use a typewriter today.
Requires no power
Manual typewriters require no power or batteries. A manual typewriter can work by itself without relying on a power source, which means you could live somewhere with little or no power and still be able to type. However, if you had no power for a light, you would need to use candles or another light source that doesn't require electricity to type in the dark.
There's a lot a computer can do, especially if it's connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, this introduces a lot of distractions when you're trying to write. For example, when writing on a computer, if you had a random thought, you can easily become distracted for hours when researching that thought on the Internet.
Difficult or impossible to trace
Many people don't know that when you print anything on modern printers, a hidden machine identification code is also printed. This identification code helps with tracking what or who printed something and helps with preventing counterfeit printing. Typewriters have no such code, and it may only be possible for an expert to identify the type of typewriter used to write a note.
Some enjoy the sound a typewriter makes as the print head strikes the page and when the printer returns to the next line. These sounds and the feelings you get from the sounds are lost when using a computer. Some users solve this problem using retro typewriter-inspired keyboards.