Typer

The typer, short for typewriter, was a fascinating kind of entirely mechanical wordprocessor used widely in fandom until the 1990s.

The archaic device was used by legendary olden-time fen for writing everything from letters to fanzines. Today's computer users would recognize the basic primitive keyboard as being the same general configuration as that used on a word processor, except the typer's lacked function keys, numbered key pad, most alternate purpose keys and programming functions, and the only purpose of the "shift" key was to change from lower to upper case. (The “upper case” numbers are symbols, pretty much just as they are on a proper modern keyboard.)

Typer keys were hit with sufficient force to cause them to strike a moving ribbon (sometimes of carbon paper, sometimes of ink-impressed cloth) which in turn hit the paper and left its impression on the page, making revision difficult. But the advantage of typers was that they were excellent mates to the primitive mimeographs and spirit duplicators, in that the ribbon could be removed or disengaged so the keys struck a mimeograph stencil (it could be left on to strike a Ditto master) with sufficient force to make the kind of impression needed to cause the stencil or master to work properly.

Some of the very earliest typers were not even electrically powered but rather were operated solely by means of manual force. It is possible, however, that this may be one of those "fanciful tales" which old-time fans are reportedly prone to tell neos to make them feel inferior.

The name is believed to derive from "twyprroo" the "action of beating on hollow logs to communicate" in proto-Bengali.

See also: tripewriters

Contributors: Dr. Gafia

from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959
Fans have machins à écrire of all vintages, even some of the antiquated strike-underneath kind. The lack of the letter F on Perdue's typewriter gave him his first fame; one time Jack Gillespie of the Futurians stencilled a tirade against Moskowitz on a machine whose z was missing.

Blue-and-red and sometimes odd combinations like neotric green-and-brown typeribbons are employed by many fans. The most favored type is elite, like this before you, but some fans have the slightly larger pica. Variants include elite with pica spacing, Vogue (similar to gothic), script, and a Royal face with small serifs tagged deputy serif. In addition, Ackerman, Konig, Ellington, Magnus and others have had access to Varitypers, which operate on an awkward principle of moving a block of letters back and forth and striking the paper against the letters, which permits the use of interchangeable plates carrying all sorts of alphabets. In size they've varied from gigantic to teenchy (you figure out the point number!) and in style have had italic, gothic, boldface, and others besides normal type.

Typewriter from Fancyclopedia 1 ca. 1944
U mean tripewriters?