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Evelyn Berezin Built the First True Word Processor

The New York Times: “Evelyn Berezin, a computer pioneer who emancipated many a frazzled secretary from the shackles of the typewriter nearly a half-century ago by building and marketing the first computerized word processor, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 93…In an age when computers were in their infancy and few women were involved in their development, Ms. Berezin..not only designed the first true word processor; in 1969, she was also a founder and the president of the Redactron Corporation, a tech start-up on Long Island that was the first company exclusively engaged in manufacturing and selling the revolutionary machines. To secretaries, who constituted 6 percent of the American work force then, Redactron word processors arrived in an office like a trunk of magic tricks, liberating users from the tyranny of having to retype pages marred by bad keystrokes and the monotony of copying pages for wider distribution…Ms. Berezin called her computer the Data Secretary. It was 40 inches high, the size of a small refrigerator, and had no screen for words to trickle across. Its keyboard and printer was an I.B.M. Selectric Typewriter with a rattling print head the size of a golf ball. The device had 13 semiconductor chips, some of which Ms. Berezin designed, and programmable logic to drive its word-processing functions.Later versions of Redactron word processors came with monitor screens for text, separate printers, greater memory caches, smaller consoles, faster processing speeds and more programmed features to smooth the writing and editing tasks. With law firms and corporate offices as its main clients, Redactron sold some 10,000 machines for $8,000 each before running into financial problems after seven years of independent operation. The company was sold in 1976 to the Burroughs Corporation, and Ms. Berezin joined the parent company as president of its Redactron division, a post she held until 1980. She then went on to careers in venture capital and consulting…”

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