With a mostly working prototype, the men sought initial funding to help further the development of their machine. They found it in 1868 in the pockets of James Densmore. Densmore, who made his fortune in the oil industry, 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) which was issued in 1876.

Sholes &


1873 - 1878

Remington Typewriter Works

Ilion, New York, US

The individual credited with the creation of the first commercially successful typewriter, the Sholes & Glidden, is inventor Christopher Latham Sholes (1819 - 1890). Sholes'  interest in writing machines was sparked when good friend Carlos Glidden showed him an article about John Pratt's Pterotype. The Pterotype was a typewriter predecessor. C.L. Sholes, C. Glidden and another collaborator, Samuel Willard Soule, a work partner of Sholes', commenced their project in 1866 at Kleinsteuber's Machine Shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1867 they had completed a crude prototype.

Sholes & Gliddens had a circular, upstrike typebar arrangement, which meant that they typed from underneath the platen. As a result, the typist could not see what was being typed. To view the print the typist had to flip the carriage upwards. Early Sholes and Gliddens typed uppercase exclusively.

Aesthetically, Sholes & Glidden typewriters were reminiscent of sewing machines, complete with foot operated treadles that returned the carriage and stands not unlike those of sewing machines. Even the Victorian inspired embellishments were sewing machine-ish. That's all because Remington produced the Sholes & Glidden in its sewing machine factory in Ilion, New York, the influences are, thus, understandable. A hand crank would eventually replace the pedal (like the example on this page), and, even later, the crank would be replaced by a lever. 

While constantly improving on the original design, Sholes and Densmore were in search of a major investor to place the typewriter into production. Investors, however, weren't yet ready for a mechanical writing machine. The general consensus was that typewritten letters were too impersonal and the overall benefits were minimal. Disillusioned, Sholes sold his shares to Densmore in 1872.

Densmore then met manufacturer and super-salesman George Newton Washington Yost who facilitated a meeting with the Remington company in March of 1873. Remington, a gun and sewing machine manufacturer, was looking for additional revenue streams to compliment its business. Remington was confident enough in the invention they were presented with that 1,000 units were contracted immediately.

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 separating commonly used letters in order to prevent jam-ups. Less Jam-ups meant faster typing.

Another reason was the level of legibility achieved which was a definite benefit in commercial environments. Also, since more of the public reached higher levels of education, production of immediate, legible text was becoming more necessary in learning institutions, too.

Lastly, clerical work was preformed primarily by men prior to the era of the typewirter, but once the typewriter became commonplace in offices, women migrated to those jobs. And since they were willing to work for less employers hired them instead.

Need an instruction manual for your S & G? Get a copy here...

I'm always on the hunt for Sholes & Gliddens. Have one for sale? Email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com