The Smith Premier

Take a close look at this typewriter. See anything odd about it?

Like the keyboard?

As in, there are two of them — uppercase letters and lowercase letters. And no shift key.

Welcome to 1896. At this point in history, there was no “standard” typewriter keyboard. There was no standard typewriter at all for that matter. This was the early days of typewriter design and there were many companies and inventors doing battle for the best design.

The Smith-Premier began when inventor Alexander Brown teamed up with the Smith brothers (Lyman and Wilbert) to produce a “better” typewriter. The machine was so successful that the Smith-Premier Typewriter Company was formed to take the machine global. This “double-keyboard” design may seem odd, but it was popular — and it adapted well to languages that relied on numerous characters, such as Thai.