Invention of the typewriter

23 August 2019Admin

The invention of the typewriter was one of the most vital and revolutionary inventions of the 19th century. Christopher Latham Sholes invented the typewriter in the year 1867. However, it was introduced commercially in the year 1874. Although, it took around 10 more years to commonly used it in offices. But once people used it, this became a necessity.

discovering the typewriter

History of the typewriter

Although it used widely after the mid-1880s, the journey of the typewriter was very long.

In the year 1575, a person Francesco Rampazetto invented the first-ever machine to impress letters on the paper. He was an Italian person and worked on a printing press.

Although the first typing device was different than the typewriter we found in offices in the 19th century, we can say this was the first typing instrument.

Then after a long time in the year 1714, an English inventor Henry Mill design and patented the first typewriter. In the year 1802, an Italian person Agostino Fantoni designed a special typewriter for his blind sister. Another Italian person Pellegrino Turri invented the carbon paper and used it in his own designed typewriter in the year 1808.

In the year 1829, an American inventor William Austin Burt patented his designed typing machine and named it Typographer. Typographer was a rectangular wooden box that uses rotating levers to impress letters on a paper.

In the year 1855, an Italian inventor Giuseppe Ravizza created a small typing machine that allows the typist to see the writing process. Ten years letter in 1865, an American person John Pratt developed another typing machine and named it Pterotype.

In the 19th century, many people of Europe and America designed several models of writing machines, but none of them was able to produce it commercially.

Development of commercial typewriter

The first commercial typewriter was Hansen Writing Ball. Rasmus Malling-Hansen designed this in the year 1865. It was the first writing machine that used its own letters arrangement to type fast. In this machine, the paper was attached to a cylinder that rotates under the writing head. Although it was first commercially manufactured typewriter, it didn't get that much popularity due to its impractical design.

The first commercially successful typewriter was designed by Christopher Latham Sholes, Frank Haven Hall, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel W. Soule. On 1st March 1873, they manufactured the first commercially successful typing device which used the QWERTY keyboard layout.

This device was very similar to a sewing machine. It uses the basic QWERTY layout but unable to type lower-case letters. The typing process was done inside the machine so the typist couldn’t see what he typed.

Later in the year 1880, another small typewriter (Index typewriter) was commercially produced. This typewriter was smaller and lighter than the Sholes and Glidden’s typewriter. Although the Index typewriter was cheaper than Sholes typewriter, they are unable to market it properly.

typewriter of early days

History of Electric Typewriter

Dr. Thaddeus Cahill designed the first electric typewriter. He designed the prototype of an electric typewriter in the year 1892 and got the patent in 1896. He used two individual keyboards to build that machine.

Later in 1902, Blickensderfer Manufacturing Company developed another electric typewriter. But the impractical design causes the failure of that machine.

First successful electric typewriter

In the year 1910, Charles L. Krum and Howard Krum make the first commercially successful electric typewriter, Morkrum Printing Telegraph. It was a machine that used a wheel to impress the letters on the paper. Later teletypewriter used this machine to print remotely sent messages.

James Fields Smathers, an American inventor, invented the power-operated typewriter in 1914. After several modifications, he delivered a successful model in the year 1920. In the year 1923, he handed over this device to the Northeast Electric Company. Later Northeast developed the machine and produced Remington Electric typewriter in the year 1925. This model was quite successful and sold over 2000 unit.

In 1928 General Motors took over Northeast Electric and created Electromatic Typewriter. In 1929, they produced the first Electromatic Typewriter.

Involvement of IBM

In the year 1933, IBM acquired Electromatic Typewriters Inc and invested 1 million USD to redesigned the basic typewriter. After that, in 1935 IBM launched its first typing device, the Model 01 IBM Electric Typewriter. It was the first successful electric typewriter in the United States. In 1941, IBM launched Model 04 which could adjust Leading, Kerning, and Tracking.

In 1961 IBM introduced its revolutionary IBM Selectric typewriter. It used a typeball to print letters on the paper. It was a completely new concept and the typeball was replaceable. It was a fast and jam-free typing machine.

IBM introduced its first interchangeable cartridges (two-color) version in the year 1973.

IBM typeball

Hybrid typewriter

In the 70s decade, IBM and other typewriter manufacturers started to develop a hybrid version of typewriter and printer. These machines used the dot-matrix mechanism to print letters on the paper and could correct the typo.

This was the last phase of development of the typewriter. In the late 70s, the production and development of the typewriter was slowdown rapidly because of the increasing popularity of the personal computer.

Electronic typewriter

cannon electronic typewriter

In 1981, the Xerox Corporation introduced a unique and most advanced typewriter. That has dedicated processors, RAM, external memory-storage, single-line LCD screen.Also, this has an advanced feature, spelling, and grammar checker.

Later Brother Industries Ltd, Canon, Smith-Corona and Philips introduce their version of electronic typewriters. In 1991, IBM sold its typing division to Lexmark. As the personal computer and printers gain its popularity, the typewriter slowly becomes obsolete.

Although it is recorded that Christopher Latham Sholes invented the typewriter, actually several individuals gradually develop it. Many people gradually developed this wonderful device.

Hope this article helps you to understand the history of the typewriter.

image source: Wikipedia