Throughout history, the typing device has gone through a series of changes in technology and techniques. However, the most significant typing devices from our past and today are without a doubt the typewriter and the modern computer keyboard, which are very far apart in terms of technique and usage.
At this point, you might be wondering, how far apart are computer keyboards and typewriters and which device is a better one for typing.
In this article, we will discuss the history of computer keyboards and typewriters and the differences that exist between them. We will also look at which of these is a better typing device for all kinds of users.
So, without wasting any further time, let’s get into this.
Let’s start with the basics. Computer keyboards are input devices that come with multiple keys and buttons that can be pressed to send signals to the computer, which performs actions relative to the functions of the buttons on the input device.
Computer keyboards have been around for decades. The earliest input devices that could qualify as keyboards can be traced down to the 1940-the 50s. Since then, keyboard technology has advanced quite a lot. Now, you can find many keyboards with different buttons, switches, layouts, profiles, etc.
At this point, keyboards are incredibly popular. Almost everyone knows what they are and how they can be used effectively. I’m typing on a keyboard, and you searched for this article using a keyboard. At this point, keyboard technology is at its peak, and only minor technological changes can be expected shortly. But let’s stay optimistic about that.
Typewriters are mechanical devices used to print ink characters on paper by striking the inked ribbon on it against the particular character key of the typewriter.
The thing about typewriters is that they’re not input devices. Instead, they’re proper mechanical machines that are known to type and offer printed sheets of paper, making them a kind of an antique computer.
Typewriters have been around for more than 150 years, with the first commercial typewriters being introduced around in 1874. These devices have been used by some of the most prominent philanthropists in the world and are still in use because of their antique prowess and visual beauty.
Comparing typewriters with computers is a more accurate strategy because they’re devices with the same principles. However, people often try to mistake typewriters with input devices like keyboards.
It isn’t a fair comparison if we talk about keyboards and typewriters as devices. Instead, we can compare the particular actions and techniques of typing used in both devices. Typewriters are great for typing if you’re learning. The actuation sequence is excellent, and the keypress is pretty impressive as well. So you should try and use one if you can.
Differences between Computer Keyboards vs Typewriters
As I said before, comparing computer keyboards and typewriters is pretty tricky. They’re not very similar devices since typewriters more closely resemble older computers.
However, if we compare computer keyboards and typewriters, let’s take a look at how they differ, what they have to offer, structure-wise, and several other considerations.
The price is the first and foremost difference that comes to mind when talking about computer keyboards and typewriters. Computer keyboards have become so ordinary and necessary for everyone worldwide that they’re being retailed at meager prices. However, there are some premium and elite keyboards available at expensive rates as well.
On the other hand, typewriters at the time of their peak usage and even as an antique typing device now have always been expensive. So that’s a point that goes to computer keyboards because more people can buy them and use them to learn typing.
The overall structure of both the typing devices differs drastically as well. For example, if we look at the form of a typewriter, there are multiple elements, including the paper holder, the ink ribbon, the large frame of the typewriter, all the keys, etc.
However, if we look at computer keyboards simultaneously, the structure is made up of the frame, the PCB, top-plate, and keycaps with switches under them. Therefore, a keyboard’s overall thickness and compactness are much better, which again gives it a point because it can fit in small desk spaces.
If you’re not familiar with the typing mechanism of both these devices, they’re also different. Talking about keyboards, there are mechanical or other switches under the keycaps that send electrical signals to the computer to perform a specific function.
Meanwhile, typewriters are much more accessible and straightforward with their typing approach. The typewriter types characters on the paper attached to it by simply striking the inked ribbon on the surface that is to be printed on the paper. This makes typewriters slower due to the process being mechanical which is another disadvantage if speed is what you’re seeking.
Modern keyboards come in various designs. You can find keyboards that have RGB lighting integrated into them, wooden keyboards, typing keyboards, keyboards with a typewriter design even. All these design choices have become available to the general public now with the rise in the popularity of keyboards.
However, if we take a look at typewriter designs, there aren’t a lot of choices available. If you’re going for an antique typewriter, it will either be made of steel or wood. The design is more on the decent and high-quality side and there aren’t any design choices made for niche audiences.
Which One is Better for Typing? Keyboard or Typewriter?
Both keyboards and typewriters are known to be great for typing if you’re a learner, but which one is the better option for typing; If we want to know that, we need to compare the factors that affect the typing activity of a person whether they’re a beginner or an advanced typist. So, let’s get into it.
Comfort of Usage
Comfort is a big factor when you’re talking about which typing device is better between keyboards and typewriters. If we take a look at keyboards, nowadays you can actually find a lot of ergonomic keyboards like split keyboards, ergonomically curved keyboards, as well as vertical ones which provide a lot of comfort to the user.
But in terms of comfort, I’ve never seen any antique typewriter being discussed. In fact, typewriters can actually be a bit strenuous on the eye as well as the hands due to their awkward key positioning. That’s why I’d say keyboards are better for typing than typewriters.
Margin of Error
One of the problems with typewriters is that you need a certain level of accuracy when you’re using them. The margin of error is very low. There aren’t any delete or backspace buttons on a typewriter which means that printing the wrong character would mean you having to start over.
This is another avenue where computer keyboards also take the win. There are backspace and delete keys that allow you to backtrack and reduce the errors and problems that your documents and writing might have. This makes keyboards a better choice for beginners who aren’t very accurate.
Computer keyboards are devices that come with many different kinds of switches. You can choose between spring switches, chiclet switches, mechanical switches, etc. All these switches offer different kinds of keypress feel and you can choose whichever you like according to your requirements.
This is something that you don’t have in typewriters. The thing about typewriters is that their keys all have mechanical action sequences and they feel and sound very great whenever you’re pressing them. So, in this case, I’d say keyboards and typewriters have a similar level of keypress feel which is great for both of them which brings them to a tie.
Let’s finally talk about the overall typing experience. Which device is going to be a better one in the long run; Well, if you ask for my opinion, I’d say computer keyboards have a better chance of getting you handy at typing fast, accurately, and precisely.
If you’re a fan of typewriters though, you can just switch to typing on them once you’ve reached a position where making mistakes is not a common occurrence for you. So, I’d say computer keyboards are an overall better typing device if we’re comparing them to typewriters depending upon their typing experience.
Although keyboards can be considered an evolved form of typewriters, it is not fair to compare two devices because they are quite different mechanically. Keyboards come with digitally enhanced components and they have some function keys dedicated to specific functions. Typewriters have no such mechanism.
Computer keyboards nowadays resemble antique typewriters in their actuation and switch mechanisms. However, there are several problems and difficulties you might face using a typewriter to learn typing. That’s why keyboards are better and offer a higher-quality overall experience. I hope you learned a lot from this article and that you’re going to enjoy this learning experience as well. May you have a great day ahead of you!