Enlarge / Secretaries use typewriters, earlier than the phrase processor modified all the things.

Computing pioneer Evelyn Berezin died at 93 this week. She was most often called the designer of the primary true word-processing pc. However she designed many different revolutionary computing techniques and helmed Redactron Company, an organization that helped remodel workplaces by producing and distributing her word-processor system.

Born to Jewish immigrants from Russia in New York Metropolis in 1925, Berezin earned a BA in physics at NYU earlier than working all through the 1950s and 1960s designing early computing techniques. She had grow to be focused on physics after studying her brother’s science-fiction periodicals.

Within the earlier years of her profession, she labored amidst a wave of innovation and new prospects that got here with the arrival of transistors. Amongst her early accomplishments was an airline reservations system for United Airways, which “served 60 cities all through the USA with a one-second response time and with no central system failures in 11 years of operation,” in keeping with the Pc Historical past Museum.

Whereas IBM had been producing phrase processors of a form for just a few years when Berezin developed hers in 1968, she was the primary to make use of semiconductor chips to make a real computing system for this function. IBM’s resolution used a typewriter and a magnetic tape drive and was a lot much less environment friendly to make use of.

The primary model of her word-processing machine had no display screen and was the scale of a contemporary washer or dryer, although later iterations introduced shows and different enhancements to the design. And naturally, it was wholly not like the software-based options for private computer systems that we use right this moment. The New York Instances described the invention in its obituary for Berezin this fashion:

Its keyboard and printer was an I.B.M. Selectric Typewriter with a rattling print head the scale of a golf ball. The system had 13 semiconductor chips, a few of which Ms. Berezin designed, and programmable logic to drive its word-processing features.

The system was marketed on to girls who have been working as secretaries with an advert within the publication Ms., which was co-founded by Gloria Steinem. The advert claimed “the loss of life of the dead-end secretary.” At first, the machine made secretaries’ lives a lot simpler, although it finally contributed to the decreased prominence of the occupation within the office. Here’s a phase of the advert copy, as quoted by The Washington Put up:

In contrast to your complacent sisters of the earlier technology, you need the liberty to get into extra fascinating and difficult work—work that’ll provide the probability to maneuver right into a employees, administrative or managerial place—the place you possibly can name a few of the photographs… With the event of computerized enhancing typewriters and phrase processing techniques, the situations of dead-end typing have been virtually eradicated.

When Intel failed to satisfy Redactron’s wants for appropriate silicon for the machine, Berezin’s firm designed and produced its personal. Redactron bought about 10,000 of those machines over the course of seven years. They bought for between $6,400 and $eight,000 every—an much more huge sum at the moment than it’s right this moment. Redactron competed instantly with IBM and was finally acquired by the Burroughs Company. Berezin spent the later years of her profession as a enterprise capitalist.

She was inducted into the Lengthy Island Know-how Corridor of Fame in 2006 and the Girls in Know-how Corridor of Fame in Los Angeles in 2011, however she doesn’t have the family title recognition that another equally productive figures within the historical past of computing have had.

Berezin died in New York Metropolis on December eight. She had been identified with lymphoma and selected to not pursue therapy.


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