Single element machines
When IBM introduced the famous golf ball system on its
electric typewriters in the 1950s, this was generally regarded as a major
breakthrough in typewriter technology. Few people realized that the concept
of the single element typewriter was already 70 years old at the time.
It was James Hammond, inventor of the Hammond typewriter
who was the first to combine all the characters he needed on his typewriter
on a single piece of metal.
The advantage of this was that the rest of the mechanism
would be used only to bring the right character to the front.
The advantages were obvious. Single element machines never
jammed, their alignment was perfect, type faces could easily be changed
and they didn't need as many parts and regular machines, which meant that
they were also usually cheaper.
There were disadvantages also. Unless the actual type element
struck the paper (as on the Blickensderfer), a hammer system had to be
used to strike the paper against the type. And this led to strange contraptions
to hold the paper (Hammond and Fitch).
The list on the left leads to all the single element machines
in this museum. For the other keyboard typewriters, go back to the Keyboard
Typewriter index in the collection.