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Evelyn Berezin, 93, Dies; Built the First True Word Processor


Evelyn Berezin in 1976 with Data Secretary, the first computerized word processor, which she designed and marketed.

Evelyn Berezin, who built and marketed the first computerized word processor, died on Saturday in Manhattan, NY, at age 93.

Credit: Barton Silverman/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.

Marc Berezin, a nephew, confirmed her death, at the Mary Manning Walsh Home. He said she had learned that she had lymphoma several months ago but had chosen to forgo treatment.

In an age when computers were in their infancy and few women were involved in their development, Ms. Berezin (pronounced BEAR-a-zen) 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% 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. The machines were bulky, slow and noisy, but they could edit, delete, and cut and paste text.

Modern word processors, which appear as programs on computers, long ago simplified the tasks of authors, journalists and other writers—sometimes after misgivings over the risk of surrendering to a future of dystopian technology—but became so efficient in offices that they killed off the need for most of the old-fashioned secretarial skills Ms. Berezin was trying to enhance.

 

From The New York Times
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