In pre-computer days, typewriters were equipped with a lever on the left-hand side known as a carriage return. When pressed, the mechanism sent the paper-holding cylinder, or carriage, to the right, and at the same time, rotated the paper upward to begin a new line. Eventually, a power carriage return was created that was pressed with the little finger on the right hand. This feature was first added to electric typewrites in 1960 by Smith Corona.
The carriage return, or just “return” for short, is now known as the enter key and is labeled with a backward arrow symbol. This key serves the same function as the original carriage return, moving the cursor to the beginning of the next line. With the advent of word wrap, however, it was no longer necessary to press the carriage return at the end of each line. Now, the enter/return key is known as a hard return and is used only at the end of a paragraph.
Carriage return also refers to the symbol, command, or key that causes the printer to be positioned, or the cursor to be displayed, at the left margin. It also controls paper feeding. In ASCII or Unicode, the character code decimal 13 represents a carriage return. In some programming languages, such as C, UNIX, Java and others, the carriage return is signified by \r.