Before computers and word processors, people used typewriters to create professionally typed documents and manuscripts. People still use typewriters today, although usually more for fun or nostalgic purposes than necessity. If you plan to buy or collect typewriters, knowing the essential parts will help you determine when a typewriter is operational or if it needs parts replaced.
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The Keyboard and Type Hammers
On a typewriter, pressing the keys activates type hammers that strike the ink ribbon and then the paper. Each key has a corresponding type hammer. Just like with a computer keyboard, it is important to be sure the typewriter keyboard has all of its keys. If a letter or number is missing, replace it to ensure accuracy when typing.
The Carriage and Platen
The carriage is the cylinder behind the keyboard which moves back and forth as you type and press return. The carriage return lever and the carriage release lever are connected to the carriage. The return lever moves the carriage back to the left starting point for the next line of writing on the page, and the release lever allows you to remove the paper from the carriage. A pull cord controls the movement of the carriage as you type. The platen is the rubber encasing around the carriage, and the platen knob controls the rotation of the platen. The paper sits in front of the rubber, and the rubber behind the paper serves as a background for the type hammers (controlled by the keys). Without the carriage and it's components, operating the typewriter would be impossible.
The type bars hit a ribbon of ink before hitting the paper in front of the platen on the carriage. The ribbon of ink ensures that each letter prints on the paper. You have to replace the ribbon on a typewriter when typed writing begins to look faded on the page.
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