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I was looking up some information about old computers and stumbled onto this great article about a little-known piece of word processing equipment that was a flash in the pan back in the late 1970s. I worked on just such a machine, the Xerox 800 ETS (Electronic Typing System) back in 1977. We went to school for a full week to learn how to operate this typewriter on steroids. There were two flavors: dual magnetic card (mag-card) and dual tape. Coding was arcane but it was the only way to get things done. You used switch codes or stop codes to automate form paragraphs. I became quite good at it, to the point where I was in high demand for awhile as being one of the few who had mastered this incredible hulk of a machine. Then, all hope for the ETS’s future were dashed just nine months after its launch when IBM launched the DisplayWriter, with a much-touted display — something the ETS didn’t have.

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