Our group decided to do our project on the typewriter because it played a big role in recording history and allowed people to write more efficiently. It continues to play a role in today’s culture as it paved the road for many future inventions. Our group wants to delve deeper into learning about the typewriter’s roadway to where it is today. We are going to explore the typewriter’s antecedents and its path leading up to the first successful mass production of the typewriter by Christopher Latham Sholes and Samuel W. Soule. We will also analyze its different patent proposals. Furthermore, we will talk about the typewriter’s modifications after its original model and modern-day electric typewriters.
There are a few antecedents to the typewriter, such as the printing press and typographer. Typography is the organization of written language to make it legible while the printing press began the mass production of written works. Typography and the typographer allowed for the organization of letters making the typewriter writing legible. The printing press used a stamp system to create pages of text while the typewriter allowed people to gravitate away from pen and paper. In addition there are also alternatives to the typewriter like the stenotype machine. This invention, mainly used in courtrooms, is similar to a typewriter in that you can type words onto paper, however, the stenotype has less keys and is not able to type every letter in the alphabet, making it less useful for everyday writing. All three of these inventions came together to make the typewriter the success that it was. These inventions then lead to later inventions such as the modern day keyboard.
We also are going to cover how the typewriter impacted American culture from the past to present, especially in the shift from industrial work to “office” work. Specifically, we will focus on how the typewriter played a role in securing women a role into the office environment. The typewriter also affected writing in the home. Previously, people had been limited to writing by hand, however, with the invention of the typewriter, stamped writing became more accessible than it had even been with the printing press. In present day society, the typewriter is still used by many authors and even in the classroom setting as an alternative to desktops and laptops for many reasons. Some of those reasons have to do with less distractions and others have to do with the “personal touch” typewriters leave for writers.
For our group’s website, we are going to separate posts by time-period and subject matter. For example, the first post will be focused on the typewriter’s antecedents prior to Christopher Latham Sholes and Samuel W. Soule’s invention model. Then the second post will be about how Christopher Latham Sholes and Samuel W. Soule used those antecedents to make their model. We will keep the posts brief but frequent with between 500-600 words and we will have around 5-6 total posts. Within each post, we will take advantage of the digital format by incorporating primary source documents and images such as advertisements, model sketches, and patents. We will also embed video footage from the documentary referenced below when posting about the typewriter’s modern day influences.
For the documentary, we would like to film a present-day infomercial for the typewriter by incorporating all of its beneficial impacts to society from past to present. As of now, we’re planning on taking a more creative, comedic approach to the documentary. We will mainly be using a GoPro camera to film scenes as well as editing our footage using Final Cut Pro and AfterEffects.
101, T. (2017, February 20). Typewriters 101. Retrieved from Typewriters 101: http://www.typewriters101.com/
This site sells reprints of old typewriter ads that would be helpful for looking at the intended audience most typewriters were meant to be sold to.
Allen, Jay. “Inefficiency with the Best of Intentions.” Quality Progress 38, no. 10 (October 2005): 96. ProQuest (accessed February 20, 2017).
This article discusses the change to the typewriters keyboard to QWERTY from an original alphabetical organization. It mentions a myth that the order was changed to make people type slower so that the typewriters wouldn’t get jammed.
“ASME Honors Sholes & Glidden Typewriter.” Mechanical Engineering 133, no. 12 (December 2011): 78. ProQuest (accessed February 20, 2017).
The Sholes & Glidden typewriter was the first commercially successful typewriter and paved the road for the models that followed.
Bollhoefer, F. W. (1947). United States of America Patent No. US2624535 A.
This is a patent for an elevated platform for typewriters allowing for more versatile storage and even compact travel.
Christopher Lockett. The Typewriter (In the 21st Century). n.p.: Janson Media, 2012. Online.
This documentary gives a brief explanation about the invention and rise in the typewriter. The documentary primarily focuses on the importance the typewriter still plays in our present day society regarding writers, collectors, and even students in the classroom setting.
“The First Typewriter Operator.” Christian Advocate (1866-1905) 80, no. 4 (Jan 26, 1905): 131. http://ezproxy.umw.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/125969526?accountid=12299.
This article has a brief interview from Mrs. M. A Saunders who changed the original typewriter keyboard to the “QWERTY” keyboard that is so popular today.
Lenssen, Philipp. “Vintage Office Advertisements of the 1930s (Page 5).” Vintage Ad Browser. 2010. Accessed February 21, 2017. http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/office-ads-1930s/5.
This website has advertisements that would have appeared in magazines for many different types and brands of typewriters.
Lyons, Martyn. “QWERTYUIOP: How the Typewriter Influenced Writing Practices.” Quaerendo 44, no. 4 (September 2014): 219-240. America: History & Life, EBSCOhost (accessed February 19, 2017).
Martin focuses on the cultural affects the typewriter had with authors since the beginning of its invention. There are differences in opinion from authors saying that the typewriter distances the writer from their writing and others saying it gives them more access. Either way, the article explores the large impact the typewriter had in the world of literature.
Madsen, Diane Gilbert.“‘To Pound a Vicious Typewriter’: Hemingway’s Corona #3.” Hemingway Review 32, no. 2 (Spring 2013): 109-121. Muse (accessed February 20, 2017).
This article discusses the effect of the typewriter specially on Hemingway’s writings. It discusses the path that Hemingway was able to take due to the typewriter that had been gifted to him.
Margolis, Ellie. “Is the Medium the Message?.” Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD 12, (Fall 2015): 1-28. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 21, 2017).
This article discusses the typewriter and its antecedents and their role in the courtroom, and how they revolutionized note taking.
Overleigh, Herbert. “THE EVOLUTION OF THE TYPEWRITER.” Belford’s Monthly and Democratic Review (1891-1892) 8, no. 47 (04, 1892): 161. http://ezproxy.umw.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/124530468?accountid=12299.
This article goes through the different antecedents of the typewriter. It begins with the first patent request in Britain in 1714 up until 1892, when the article was written.
Polt, R. (1992, December 9). The Classic Typewriter Page. Retrieved from Typewriters: http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/index.html
This web page is A resource for all aspects of typewriters ranging from history, parts, key manufacturers and collections.
Strom, Sharon Hartman. Beyond the Typewriter : Gender, Class, and the Origins of Modern American Office Work, 1900-1930. Women in American History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992.
Strom focuses on how the typewriter and other office machinery revolutionized the office environment. The typewriter specifically changed the lives of women and women’s careers starting at the beginning of the 20th century.
Students Sit at Desk with Typewriter. 1964-04-21. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives. http://archive.umw.edu:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/umw:2897
This image demonstrated how the typewriter allowed a switch from pen and paper to more efficient typed work.
Typewriterdatabase. (2011, February 25). The Typewriter Database. Retrieved from typewriterdatabase: http://typewriterdatabase.com/
This site is an online database that deals with the history of various typewriter manufacturers and models as well as serial numbers and pictures.
“Typewriter patents.” Extracts from Patent Office 24, no. 826, 561-839, 746. HathiTrust (accessed February 20, 2017).
This sources shows the many different patents for the typewriters. This demonstrates the variety of models and the enormity of the typewriter as a potential successful invention.