The last UK Typewriter 21st November 2012
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed for keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the sorts used in movable type letterpress printing.
After their invention in the 1860s, typewriters quickly became indispensable tools for practically all writing other than personal correspondence. They were widely used by professional writers, in offices, and for business correspondence in private homes. By the end of the 1980s, word processors and personal computers had largely displaced typewriters in most of these uses.
Notable typewriter manufacturer companies have included E. Remington and Sons, IBM, Imperial Typewriters, Oliver Typewriter Company, Olivetti, Royal Typewriter Company, Smith Corona, and Underwood Typewriter Company.
Fascinating facts about the invention of the
AT A GLANCE:
The evolution of the typewriter is part of the ongoing history of the human need to communicate. Gradually a machine emerged that revolutionized the work of the writer. In 1867, Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule invented the first practical mechanical typewriter machine.
1714 The first patent for a ‘writing machine’ was given to Henry Mill of England
1829 William Burt of the US patented his typographer machine
1868 Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule patent type writing machine
1872 Thomas Alva Edison builds first electric typewriter
1873 Remington & Sons mass produces the Sholes & Glidden typewriter
1978 Olivetti Company and the Casio Company develop electronic typewriter
The idea behind the typewriter was to apply the concept of movable type developed by Johann Gutenberg in the invention of the printing press century to a machine for individual use. Descriptions of such mechanical writing machines date to the early eighteenth century. In 1714, a patent something like a typewriter was granted to a man named Henry Mill in England, but no example of Mills’ invention survives.
In 1829, William Burt from Detroit, Michigan patented his typographer which had characters arranged on a rotating frame. However, Burt’s machine, and many of those that followed it, were cumbersome, hard to use, unreliable and often took longer to produce a letter than writing it by hand.
Finally, in 1867, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin printer-publisher-politician named Christopher Latham Sholes, with assistance from Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule, patented what was to be the first useful typewriter. He licensed his patent to Remington & Sons of Ilion, New York, a noted American gun maker. In 1874, the Remington Model 1, the first commercial typewriter, was placed on the market.
Based on Sholes’ mechanical typewriter, the first electric typewriter was built by Thomas Alva Edison in the United States in 1872, but the widespread use of electric typewriters was not common until the 1950s.
The electronic typewriter, a typewriter with an electronic “memory” capable of storing text, first appeared in 1978. It was developed independently by the Olivetti Company in Italy and the Casio Company in Japan.
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