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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
golf ball printer
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printer The IBM 2741, a slow but letter-quality printing
device and terminal based on the IBM Selectric typewriter.
The "golf ball" was a little spherical frob bearing reversed
embossed images of 88 different characters arranged on four
parallels of latitude; one could change the font by swapping
in a different golf ball.
This was the technology that enabled APL to use a
non-EBCDIC, non-ASCII, and in fact completely non-standard
character set. This put it 10 years ahead of its time -
where it stayed, firmly rooted, for the next 20, until
character displays gave way to programmable bit-mapped
devices with the flexibility to support other character sets.