The History of The Invention of The Typewriter

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Typewriters were mainly invented to help the visually challenged to write. Quick and efficient written communication became essential in the mid-nineteenth century as the pace of the business activity increased. Many attempts to mechanise writing are recorded in the patents of that period, although few went into production. Pointing out one single inventor is therefore difficult, but the “chirographer,” or printing machine. It was patented in 1843 by Charles Thurber 1803 – 1886, was the first to be produced and sold commercially.

A wide variety of writing machines were designed in the early to mid 19th century, Pellegrino Turri’s 1808 machine enabled blind people to write. William Austin Burt’s “typographer” of 1829, and the Hansen writing ball of 1864, which was probably the first typewriter that made it possible to write faster than by hand. The first commercially successful typewriter was developed by newspaper editor Christopher Scholes and others in Milwaukee. Wisconsin in 1867. The patent was later taken up by Remingtons. It was also a well-established sewing machine company, which launched the Scholes and Glidden typewriter in 1873. This enabled operators to see the page as they worked. The keyboard incorporated the inventors’ QWERTY layout for the keys. It was designed to prevent the letters from jamming, which became the universally accepted standard.

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Electric typewriters were then developed in the early 20th century. It was but proved too expensive until International Business Machines (IBM) launched their first electric typewriter in 1935. Manufacturers progressively added further features. They included proportional spacing, memory, and “automatic” correction until the typewriter became known as a “word processor”. Later its functions were taken over by the desktop computer during the 1980s.

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