Antique typewriters

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2015-06-26 11:18:14

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Typewriters are instruments used for typing documents. History

The first known man to have filed for a patent for a typewriter was Henry Mill in the year 1714. He failed to capitalize on his invention and did not produce it on a commercial scale. During the 19th century, typewriters were being made in the US and Europe although not really in mass numbers.

In 1874, Christopher Sholes was able to develop a design that made it possible for the typewriter to be made in huge quantities. With the backing of Carlos Glidden, Sholes submitted his proposal to E. Remington & Sons, a manufacturing company specializing in firearms, who at that time was looking to diversify their business. E. Remington liked his idea and in the same year, they decided to produce 1,000 units of it.

The first Sholes & Glidden typewriter however had many flaws in its design. For one, typists were only able to see what they were typing by lifting the carriage, leading some people to call it the “Blind Remington.” It also was only able to print capital letters. For these reasons, the first mass-produced typewriter failed to become a commercial success.

This typewriter though was the first to have featured a “QWERTY” keyboard, which until today is still being used. Sholes came up with the design to prevent adjacent type bars from hitting each other, which was a common problem in early typewriters. By separating letters that were used often (such as h and t), he was able to significantly reduce key “collisions.”

In the year 1878, Remington released the Perfect Type Writer No. 2, which was an improved version of the original Sholes & Glidden typewriter. Able to print lowercase letters, this typewriter unlike its predecessor, was a commercial hit.

In 1881, the Caligraph, was introduced to the market. This typewriter was designed to compete head on with similar products made by Remington. The Caligraph had a keyboard that featured separate keys for uppercase and lowercase characters. Other commercial designs soon followed.

Instead of utilizing type bars, the Hammond typewriter used a piece of rubber that had letters engraved on it.

1894 saw the introduction of the Oliver typewriter into the market. This typewriter featured vertical type bars and was very popular among soldiers stationed in North Africa during the Second World War.

In 1896, the Underwood became available to the market. This typewriter was revolutionary in many ways as it was able to solve many of the issues that plagued its predecessors. The first Underwood featured four rows of keys, plus a front strike and a shift key. Also its letter bars hit the front of the platen.

Using the Underwood as basis, many manufactures starting in the 1920s began standardizing the design of their typewriters.

Types of antique typewriters

Index writing machine

The index writing machine was a simpler and cheaper alternative to early typewriters. It was very popular during its day despite the fact that it offered poor print quality.

Keyboard typewriters

Popular vintage keyboard typewriter brands include Remington, Underwood, Hammond and Blickensderfer.

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