Nearly everyone uses some form of a computer these days to type or store information. In the 1960s and 1970s, such conveniences did not exist. Word processing, for example, was done by typewriter in the 1960s, though the ones used in our line of work were modified.
Called the Underwood Model MC-88, it was all uppercase, and it probably had a few other modifications as well, though I no longer remember any. The intent was that in typing a message or a report, the niceties of capitalizing the first word in a sentence or proper nouns was considered unimportant. It did speed things up when transcribing information from magnetic tape to paper.
However, by the time I got to Okinawa in 1972, the MC-88 had been replaced as a transcription tool by a solenoid-driven monstrosity called the AG-22. It had some features like the ability to tag certain parts of the text being typed and save that in a special way for later use. Of course, the machine also allowed for output on paper.
The problem for me in using the AG-22 was that the mechanical action was delayed because of having to go through all the relays. That is, I would hit a key and there was a slight pause before the machine would type that letter. It was enough of a delay that it really messed up my mind when trying to get a rhythm going. Somehow, most guys got used to the time lag, but I never did. Fortunately, I did not have to use the AG-22 for my particular tasks.
I still got to use the good old MC-88. But when preparing mission materials for various positions aboard our aircraft, typing everything out was a big pain, even when using carbon copies. While the original would be neat and legible, copies never turned out well. The solution was to retype everything, a nasty bit of tedium.
But there was a better way: what if that information could be stored and then have a machine regurgitate it at will? The PC was still a decade away, and while our headquarters might have had access to a mainframe computer, field units sure as heck did not. Well, that better way was a very fine piece of engineering called the Model 28 Teletype!
Anyone who has listened to old newscasts with a clickety-clack sound in the background for effect has heard what a Model 28 sounds like. Follow this link to see what it looks like. Look at the picture of the full Model 28 version with a woman typing at it and note that yellow ribbon of sturdy paper tape emerging from a box on her left. That was our pre-computer storage!
By typing in the necessary data/information with a machine switch set in the proper position, not only did the typist get an original on paper, he also got a paper tape record of what was typed. By running that paper tape through the reader, another copy could be generated. This was much less tedious than typing everything over and over – and all the materials were originals.
The Model 28 was a very important piece of equipment for me – absolutely loved that machine. And it made great confetti for parties and celebrations!