Ben’s Super-Realistic Typewriter Simulator (OverType)

Ben's TypewriterHere it is, your moment of Zen. My friend Ben is a web developer (amongst other talents) and was clearly bored recently because he had the great idea to create a web-based typewriter.

You heard correctly; and hearing is important because it has sound effects too.

Go to Ben’s Super Realistic Typewriter Simulator (now known as OverType) using Chrome or Firefox. Safari has an as-yet-unresolved sound sync issue and I haven’t tried IE. I cannot overstate how incredibly (sadly) pleasurable this typewriter is.

You’ll start off in the centre of the top line of a piece of paper (by design, though I don’t know why). Type! When you get near the end of the line, you’ll hear the little bell. When you get to the end, you’ll start typing over your letters just like the real thing. Hit ENTER (or as we used to know it, “Carriage Return’) to go to the start of the next line.

Cursor keys work to move around the page, and it’s a two-color ribbon – hold ESCape and type to get the red text, but look out because sometimes the ribbon doesn’t always move all the way and your letter might have a hint of black on it. Don’t go too fast or the typewriter will get stuck! You can also decide how wonky (“broken”) the typewriter is by adjusting the slider at the top, and you can adjust how inky the ribbon is (and as you type, it slowly fades out).

Stupid? Yes. Well executed? Yes. Satisfying? More than you would probably believe. Highly recommended for a few minutes of relaxing fun.

17 Comments on Ben’s Super-Realistic Typewriter Simulator (OverType)

  1. Thanks for the writeup John – glad you enjoyed my little diversion… it’s been a surprisingly interesting challenge to get it behaving like a real typewriter (unlike every other typewriter sim I’ve ever found, which behave more like word processors in that backspace deletes what you have just typed) and I’ve learned a few new tricks along the way.

  2. MAKE IT SO YOU CAN TYPE FASTER JESUS CHRIST LET THERE BE AN OPTION SO THE TYPE WRITER WILL KEEP UP WITH HOW FAST I TYPE SO I CAN ACTUAL USE THIS IT CANT BE THAT [SwearyMary] HARD

    • Hello, young person 🙂

      Firstly, please don’t shout; it’s not big and it’s not clever.

      Secondly, I’m guessing you’ve never used an actual typewriter.

      You should probably attempt to rectify both of the above, then after you’ve unjammed the typewriter hammers, come back and let me know what you thought of the ‘real thing’ in comparison to Overtype?

    • Hello, rob.

      OverType’s maximum typing speed is hampered quite deliberately for two main reasons.

      Firstly, just as on a real typewriter, and unlike on a computer, you can only press one key at a time – each key must be released before the next can be pressed. On a real typewriter, failing to do this could result in a tangle of hammers as John says.

      Secondly, even when keys are pressed separately, there is a compromise necessary between maximum typing speed and the realism of the sound. The faster I allow keys to be typed, the less time is available to play the sound sample for each key. It is already possible to type quickly enough to partially spoil the sound, but hopefully not fast enough to wreck it entirely. I feel that the sound is an integral part of the typewriter experience so it’s more important to preserve it than to allow very fast typing.

      Ben

  3. I am, by the way, highly amused that Tom Hanks has released an iOS app that acts as a typewriter. Hanks is well known as a typewriter nerd, so I suppose he has every right to do so, but gosh darn it, I like Ben’s typewriter more. Plus, Mr Hanks falls into the trap of thinking that a typewriter should be able to delete. NO NO NO. The whole joy of typing is that you get to go xxxxxx or ===== over your mistakes!

  4. Hi,

    I found Hanx Writer first and do enjoy it but in looking for a pc friendly version I came across yours. Though I do prefer a delete key option simply because I send a lot of

    letters and enjoy the sound and feel of a typewriter but am still particular about not

    making a mess of the page due to typos. I also edit as I’m typing (I just did) so it makes that habit very time consuming and because I also am easily distracted it’s likely to get frustrating.

    Aside from that I have a technical question. How do you get to a second page? Is there any option to save work on the site itself or must it be saved to one’s computer each time? Thank you so much.

    Molly

    • Hi Molly

      There are other typewriter simulators on the web that have modern computer-like features such as being able to delete what you’ve typed, and save documents. The whole reason I wrote OverType was because I didn’t want that; I wanted a more faithful simulation of what it was really like to use a manual typewriter, without all the modern cosseting features we’ve become used to from word processors.

      To get a second page: print out the first page if you want to keep it, then hit ctrl-R (PC) / cmd-R (Mac) to load a fresh sheet of paper.

      Ben (author of OverType, not affiliated to this site)

      • I grew up with manual typewriters and never had one quite this slow or wonky. Turning off the “wonkiness” is still far too wonky. As a writer I’d actually like to be about to use something like this, but this is far too annoying, even by typewriter standards. I certainly hope you keep working on it!

        • Hi Tony,

          The code should produce zero wonkiness when the Brokenness control is turned down to zero, and this seems to work fine for me. Can you send a screenshot showing the problem, and details of which browser you’re using to [email protected] and I’ll take a look.

          As for the speed – I must admit I’ve been rather surprised by the number of people who apparently want to use OverType for serious work rather than just to muck about as I had intended! I’ll have to consider making a separate mode for this, which will do away with some of the super-realistic features in order to make it faster and less curmudgeonly. It depends on free time though.

    • You may want to give Ben (the author) a little more to go on, such as your operating system type and version, and your browser type and version. It works for me without that behavior, but maybe I’m lucky.

  5. Love it.Really!
    Though to be honest, some features on/off switches would be splendid.
    Sort like cheats ya know? 🙂 Infinite INK! Delete mode! Modern type speed Mode!
    And specially, Save! it can be to image or .pdf, or who knows, maybe OverType format!;)
    Again, i love it, very much, so i would like to get some work done with it! 🙂

    • I believe Ben put some some easter eggs in the program. To access them, start a new document, and then type the following [keys] or text:

      [Cursor Up]
      [Cursor Up]
      [Cursor Down]
      [Cursor Down]
      [Cursor Left]
      [Cursor Right]
      [Cursor Left]
      [Cursor Right]
      BA

      It’s important that the B and A are in upper case. Enjoy!

  6. I agree with those who are shouting, “Please make a USABLE version of this for those of us who want to actually write with it!” I grew up with real typewriters and have even recently had a few, and yes they were pretty difficult. A hybrid with the style and sounds, but not the consistant difficulty (or perhaps varying levels beginning at “usable”) would be a Godsend. Real writers are hungry for it. Keep the spirit but improve the functionality!

  7. Visually, this is fantastic software. But the slow speed is a big problem, and the slowness isn’t historically accurate, as some people are asserting. Skilled typists were able to get up to 50 or 60 words per minute, with almost no errors – this was once the minimum required for skilled typists on manual typewriters, in the business world. Of course some people could type A LOT faster than this. (The fastest? “Albert Tangora … set a world record speed for continuous typing on an Underwood Standard manual keyboard for one hour at 147 words a minute on October 22, 1923.”) Jammed typebars could be unstuck almost instantly, but naturally part of the skill was to avoid getting them jammed in the first place. (Supposedly the QWERTY layout helped with this.) Corrections could be disastrous for fast typing speeds – don’t forget, correction tape was a later development, for electric typewriters; most manual typists used hand-held erasers, with brushes on one end. So the only good solution was to eliminate typos altogether, at least as far as humanly possible. (Obviously this was VERY different from today’s standard use of the Delete key for almost instant corrections.) As far as the “authentic” sound of fast typists, you couldn’t hear most of the individual taps when the typing was efficiently rapid. It was really more of a noisy clattering sound, and not the gentle tap-tap-tap that only a poor typist would produce. OverType’s sound problem could be easily(?) fixed by making the sounds shorter as the speeds got faster. As it is now, OverType isn’t very practical, unless your goal is to make a nice visual presentation of typewritten pages. It’s great for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*