Typewriter trivia

Did you know?

That the first electric typewriter debuted in 1899?

That “blind” typewriters were hugely popular for the first few decades — in which you couldn’t actually see what you typed.

Visible typewriters didn’t debut until the early 1900s.

Typewriting contests, known as typewriter “races,” were quite popular in the early 1900s. Racers would travel the country to participate in these races and were sponsored by the major manufacturers, such as Underwood and Remington.

Companies would commission typewriter makes to craft custom typefaces. Dun & Bradstreet, Prudential Insurance and even Keen’s English Chop House commissioned custom faces. Royal’s Old English 9 Pitch was created for Keen’s English Chop House (which is still in business today).

A typewriter ribbon may be made from cotton, nylon or silk and is averages 300 threads per inch. At one point in history there were more than 75 companies producing ribbons.

A typical cotton ribbon spool will produce roughly 900,000 characters or about 180,000 words. Silk ribbons, which are thinner and tend to be quite a bit longer, can produce up to 460,000 words.

Christopher Latham Sholes is considered the inventor of the typewriter, which debuted in 1867. While typewriter-like devices had been around in various forms since the 1700s, the Sholes typewriter incorporated elements that remain with us today: straight-rowed sets of keys and platen. The name of this device the “Type-writer” also remains with us today.

The Wonderful Writing Machine by Bruce Bliven, Jr.
Ingenious Yankees by Donald R. Hoke