1874 - 1887
Remington Typewriter Works
Ilion, New York, US
The individual mostlry credited with the creation of the first
commercially successful typewriter is inventor Christopher Latham Sholes. Sholes's interest in the writing machine was sparked when good friend Carlos Glidden showed him an article about John Pratt's Pterotype - an early typewriter predecessor. The two men and Samuel Willard Soule, a work partner of Sholes's, began their collaboration in 1866. By 1867 a crude model was completed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Kleinsteuber's Machine Shop.
Ready with a (mostly) working prototype, the men sought funding and found it in the pockets of James Densmore in 1868. Densmore was impressed enough to quickly purchase a 25% stake in the venture. During 1869, Glidden & Soule lost interest and sold most of their remaining shares to Sholes & Densmore (Soule retained 10% ownership). A patent was applied for in 1872 (no.182,511).
While constantly improving on the original design, Sholes and Densmore were looking for a major investor but investors weren't ready for a mechanical writing machine just yet. The general consensus was that typewritten letters were too impersonal and the overall benefits were minimal. Sholes sold his shares to Densmore in 1872.
After consulting with a manufacturer/salesman by the name of George Washington Yost, James Densmore met with the Remington Company. Remington was looking for additional revenue streams to complement their gun and sewing machine businesses. Remington was confident enough in the product to sign a contract for 1,000 typewriters in March of 1873.
Early Sholes & Glidden typewriters resembled sewing machines complete with a foot operated treadle that returned the carriage and a stand not unlike that of a sewing machine. This was because Remington made the early typewriters in their sewing machine factory utilizing sewing machine materials, labor and
management. On later models, a hand crank replaced the foot peddle (like the typewriter pictured here). Even later models still were fitted with a carriage return lever instead of the hand crank. They also did not have the elaborate decorations.
These early S & G typewriters were upstrike blindwriters, meaning they typed from underneath the platen where the typist could not see what was being typed. To view the print the typist had to flip the carriage upwards. Early
S & G typewriters typed uppercase exclusively.
Among the reasons for the
success of the Sholes & Glidden was the ability of the user to type faster than to write with a quill pen (ballpoint pens weren't yet invented). The keyboard's QWERTY layout helped, in no small part, with this achievement by seperating commonly used letters in order to prevent jam ups. Another reason is the level of legibility achieved - a definite benefit in commercial environments. Also, more of the public reached higher levels of education which meant text needed to be reproduced quicker. Lastly, clerical work was done primarily by men prior to the era of the typewriter. Once the typewriter became more commonplace, women migrated to office work and, since they were willing to work for less, employers hired them instead.
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