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The capital "T" for the Type tool has changed to dashes and does not work at all.
I've uninstalled Photoshop and reinstalled from my original CD.
And if you keep typing "Shift T"?
It is quite impossible that a system as old as Ps 5.5 changes suddenly behaviour without an external event.
What is your OS and version? Can you post a screenshot of the problem?
Sounds like you had the Vertical or Horizontal Type Mask Tool selected which creates a selection when typing instead of a text layer.