On March 1, 1873, the Remington company started making the first commercially-successful typewriter, marketed as the Sholes and Glidden (or Remington No. 1) typewriter.
Unlike other attempts at a typing machine, this one used the now-familiar "QWERTY" keyboard, designed to keep the most frequently-used letters from jamming up.
Even so, it could only type in UPPER CASE.
Other typewriter makers also struggled with the upper- and lower-case conundrum.
When our Bill Geist visited the Mesa Typewriter Exchange in Mesa, Arizona back in 2012, owner Bill Wahl had a case in point:
Wahl: "This is a Caligraph. This is a very interesting machine. There's no shift key. So, you had your lower case keys, you had your upper case keys. And this machine also has an upstrike. … You could not see what you were typing as you were typing on this machine."
Geist: "Bad idea!"
Over time, the shift key became standard – a CAPITAL improvement, you might say.
And typewriters became a fixture of the modern office, not to mention a part of our popular culture, as in Jerry Lewis' comic pantomime to composer Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter":
But for true devotees, there's nothing funny about the near-total replacement of the clatter of typewriters by the soft hum of computers.
Still, in his travels eight years ago, Geist found signs of a typewriter renaissance, including among young people learning, for the first time, the truly tangible satisfaction of typing on a genuine nuts-and-bolts machine. Said one young lady, "You feel like a real writer!"
- ("Sunday Morning," 10/15/17)
For more info:
- Mesa Typewriter Exchange, Mesa, Ariz. (Facebook)
- The Virtual Typewriter Museum
- Smith Corona Typewriter Museum
Story produced by Robert Marston.