MadSci Network: Other

Re: how can you tell my typewriter is mine?

Date: Thu Jan 18 11:06:21 2001
Posted By: T. J. Wilkinson, Post-doc/Fellow, General Chemistry and Forensic Science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Area of science: Other
ID: 979600854.Ot

Hi Joey.

Identifying that typewriter is not as easy in real life as it is in the movies, but it is sometimes possible. There are two basic types of typewriters - those with typebars, which are long metal bars that have letters at the end of them, and those with elements, which are round metal or plastic balls that have the letters and other characters on them. Over time, imperfections develop on the type bars and elements. For example, the letter "R" may get a little nick knocked out of it, or some letters, usually R, S and E, get worn down over time, and so they look different. A good forensic scientist can compare something the typewriter has written with the typebars or element, and be able to reasonably say that a particular note came from a specific typewriter. It is NOT always easy, and it is NOT always possible. Sometimes....

I hope this answers your question. If you need more information, please feel free to write back.

T. J. Wilkinson Research Fellow Lawrence Berekely National Laboratory

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