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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.


The round Lambert keyboard The Junior - the smalles keyboard ever. The Dhiatensor keyboard
The Yost full keyboard The Hammond Ideal keyboard The Imperial curved keyboard