1881 - 1898
Hall Type-Write Co. & National Type-Writer Co.
Brooklyn, New York, US
Salem, Massachusetts, US
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Inventor Thomas Hall (1834 - 1911) claimed he had invented a typewriter as early as 1867 though circumstances prevented him from further developing it. As a result, it wasn't until the year 1881 that the index typewriter on this page was first introduced (patent no.238,387). It consisted of "hardly one-tenth the parts" of its competition, weighed a very portable 7lbs. and measured just 14" by 7-1/2" by 2" within its case. Halls hold distinction of being the first index typewriters to be successfully produced.. As odd as the machine may seem today, in an era when keyboards were a strange new technology, there would be a bevy of various other index typewriters to come.
All Halls work in roughly the same manner. The user would move the pointer with one hand to the desired character then press down on the pointer to print. Only one hand is required when using a Hall, the right. Most other index typewriters require both hands. Within the typewriter, under the top plate, rests the rubber type plate which is attached to a mechanism that moves accordingly with the pointer.
Halls are divided into three models based on where they were manufactured. A nameplate can be found on the top of each machine as well as on the front of their cases indicating these very designations. The first Hall, the New York Hall, was produced in Brooklyn, New York by the Hall Type-Writer Company, ca.1881. It is the only model to have a nickel plated top plate (the two later models were both had steel top plates). The second Hall, the Salem Hall, was produced in Salem, Massachusetts and was made by the Hall Type-Writer Company, ca.1887. The last of these models was produced in Boston, Massachusetts by the National Type-Writer Company, ca.1889. With Halls, more so than with most other typewriters, the case is extremely important to their completeness.
Index typewriters eventually fell out of favor because, as people began to master the keyboard and were able to type faster with them, the slower index machines became to cumbersome. For example, a typist on a traditional machine, like the Remington, could be expected to produce about 65 words per minute, or more. The Hall was limited to just 35 words per minute, max. No matter the skill level of the typist.
Available accessories for the Halls included an attachment for a secondary legend and pointer (as seen on the example at the top of this page) and rubber type plates with various typefaces. Extra type plates cost $1 each and they were made to be easily interchangeable. Lastly, cases were available in "...ebonized, mahogany, rosewood, bird's-eye maple, sealskin, leather, etc..."
Typing from an index was well received during the industry's early years for a couple key reasons. The first was cost. Halls, at just $40, cost less than half of a Remington standard typewriter. The second reason was ease of use because society as a whole hadn't quite learned how to maneuver the keyboard, which was a new innovation.