machines for writing

Evelyn Berezin, computer designer, born 12 April 1925, died 8 December 2018.

“Ms. Berezin (pronounced BEAR-a-zen)” (well done to the New York Times for offering proper guides to pronunciation) was a co-founder, in 1969, of the Redactron Corporation, which developed, made and marketed the world’s first computerized – using semiconductors – word processor. Called the Data Secretary, it launched in 1971, and went way beyond the intended use of helping secretaries in their work, by actually making large parts of their role dispensable.

Roughly the same size as the typist-chair combo that faced it, the Data Secretary nonetheless paved the way for smaller word processors, and for today’s laptops:

a GRiD laptop, loving refurbished at IDEO

The Redactron Corporation was sold to the Burroughs Corporation in 1976. We are familiar with them. And Berezin went on to a successful career as a tech pioneer, investor and consultant.

The Guardian notes that Berezin worked as a systems developer on projects as varied as: shell trajectories for the armed forces; subscriptions to Fortune magazine; passenger reservations for United Airlines; and betting on the horses at the Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island.