Typewriter balls

TraductoraPobleSec

Senior Member
Catalan & Spanish
Hi everyone. I am translating a text into Spanish and have come across the following sentence:

In 1983, when I started in Apple, beating IBM was our reason for existence. We wanted to send IBM back to the typewriter bussiness holding its Selectric typewriter balls.

What do you understand by "holding its Selectric typewriter balls"? Is "typewriter balls" a noun phrase (I very much doubt it) or should I "buy" the "naughty" meaning?

A million thanks in advance! :)
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    This famous electric typewriter had a rotating ball with the type on it, instead of a set of hammers. The balls could be changed to provide a variety of founts. This is an amusing but scabrous pun, and you should definitely "buy the naughty meaning". It's a double-entendre.
     

    TraductoraPobleSec

    Senior Member
    Catalan & Spanish
    This famous electric typewriter had a rotating ball with the type on it, instead of a set of hammers. The balls could be changed to provide a variety of founts. This is an amusing but scabrous pun, and you should definitely "buy the naughty meaning". It's a double-entendre.
    Thank you guys for your very quick response: it's too bad the pun won't work in Spanish... :(
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    This famous electric typewriter had a rotating ball with the type on it, instead of a set of hammers. The balls could be changed to provide a variety of founts. This is an amusing but scabrous pun, and you should definitely "buy the naughty meaning". It's a double-entendre.
    For those of us of a certain age, this typewriter's introduction to the world was the best thing since sliced bread. In my humble opinion, it was the Cadillac of typewriters. I still remember the first one I ever used and the awe I felt in pushing that little button and having the typo mysteriously disappear! Gosh, I feel old now... :eek:
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I agree that it's meant in a slightly naughty way, but a little history of the Selectric might help explain.

    I'm old enough to remember the Selectric. In fact, my first typing class had Selectric typewriters. They were a marvelous invention for the time.

    Before the Selectric, electric typerwriters were simply powered manual typewriters. They still had a separate hammer for each pair of characters (lower and upper case). They made typing easier and the darkneess of the impressions of each character were more consistent, but it was no real change in the technology.

    With the Selectric, IBM came up with a novel concept. A single striking head, in the shape of a ball, held all the characters. When you struck a key, the ball rotated to line up the appropriate character and struck the page. While this was interesting and pretty amazing, in a nerdy sort of way, (keep in mind that the PC didn't come into general use until at least a decade later,) the real value was something quite different. The ball heads were easily interchangeable. Remember that, before the days of word processors, typewriters had only one font available: whatever font the hammers had been forged with. With these interchangeable heads, you could have a selection of fonts for different uses. It was a huge innovation for those who typed.

    Here's a great photo of these Selectric ball heads:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...e_Wiki.jpg/800px-IBM_Selectric_Globe_Wiki.jpg

    I hope that helps make more sense of the background of the off-color comment. :)

    ([edit] Sorry, I'm slow and verbose. I see others have covered the topic more succinctly. Ignore the blather. :) The photo's still of interest, though, I think.)
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Indeed, JamesM and Dimcl, and if I may be permitted a further pun in French, you have evoked la nostalgie de la boule.

    The photo does make it very graphic, JamesM. Of course, in the end, IBM had no need to go back to its typewriters, with balls or not, thanks to Microsoft.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We are wandering a little off-topic now, but I took TraductoraPobleSec's comment as entirely courteous. That comes from two years listening to what people of all backgrounds say here. I hear no sarcasm in the comment, only a close translation of a genuine and sincere comment.
     

    TraductoraPobleSec

    Senior Member
    Catalan & Spanish
    In Austria a reply in this context with "dear friend" at the end would be definetly a sarcastic dig. :)

    I am curious, is it the same in English?

    And if so, could I answer in a colloquial way with:
    "Dont't dear friend-me ..." ?
    We are wandering a little off-topic now, but I took TraductoraPobleSec's comment as entirely courteous. That comes from two years listening to what people of all backgrounds say here. I hear no sarcasm in the comment, only a close translation of a genuine and sincere comment.
    Hi, guys!

    Doppel: I am sorry if my vocative made you think I was being ironic: not at all - I was actually just trying to be friendly! :)

    Yes, Pajandrum, you got it! Thank goodness! ;) Say hi to Belfast, by the way (Malone Rd. was home to me for a few months!)

    Many thanks everyone for your quick replies, which have been of great help!

    TPS
     
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