Sunday, May 19, 2013

“There is nothing to writing.

 All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”~ Ernest Hemingway

The semester is over, and my students will bleed no more for my Composition classes, but I still think writing is a key component to communication...not merely a tweet or a text.  Auction brought me two typewriters, and so a little insight into this keyboard.  The typewriter dates back to the 1700s when Henry Mill, an Englishman, filed a patent for “an artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another.”
The first working typewriter on record was designed by an Italian Pellgriono Turri in 1800′s for the countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano who used it to type letters. There is a novel, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine, written by Carey Wallace, which is based on the relationship between Turri and the Countess.  "Carolina Fantoni, a young contessa in nineteenth-century Italy, is going blind. Neither her parents nor her fiancé believe her. Only her friend Turri, an eccentric local inventor, understands. As darkness erases Carolina's world, she discovers one place where she can still see-in her dreams-yet she remains isolated from the outside world. Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri creates a peculiar contraption for her: the world's first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will mark both their lives forever."
I guess a guy would have to create a rather impressive I-phone or super Blackberry these days!  The Hansen Writing Ball was invented in 1865 by a pastor at the Royal Institute for the deaf-mutes in Copenhagen.  The writing ball was first patented and entered production in 1870 and was the first commercially produced typewriter. In Danish it was called the skrivekugle ("writing ball"). The Hansen ball was a combination of unusual design and ergonomic innovations, but like most of the early-19th-century typewriters, it did not allow the paper to be seen as it passed through the device (kind of a precursor to Facebook...does anyone really see what they are posting there???).
The typewriter which we recognize today was a Sholes and Glidden, and it was invented in 1868 by Christopher L. Sholes who later on sold it to the Remington company, but look at how decorative it is....even a retina display ipad can't compete! 
It typed only in capital letters (guess everyone "shouted"), and it introduced the QWERTY keyboard, which is very much with us today. The keyboard was probably designed to separate frequently-used pairs of typebars so that the typebars would not clash and get stuck at the printing point. The S&G was a decorative machine, boasting painted flowers and decals. It looked rather like a sewing machine, and it was manufactured by the sewing machine department of the Remington arms company.  In my research, I found it interesting that many of these typewriter manufacturers also made guns.

Appearing shortly before 1900,  Underwood established the stereotype of a typewriter until the introduction of the IBM Selectric in 1961. When the Underwood was first introduced, it was only one of hundreds of competing and extremely varied typewriter designs. But by 1920, almost every typewriter imitated the Underwood.   Another little interesting research tidbit: The Underwood typewriter is the creation of German-American inventor Franz X. Wagner. The name "Underwood" comes from John T. Underwood, an entrepreneur who bought the company early in its history.  The Underwood family was already a successful manufacturer of ribbons and carbon paper. It's said that when Remington decided to produce its own line of ribbons and carbon paper, Underwood responded, "All right, then, we'll just build our own typewriter!"

I do have that Underwood in the shop along with the Smith-Corona shown below.  Smith Corona was created when L. C. Smith & Bros. united with Corona Typewriter in 1926, with L. C. Smith & Bros. making office typewriters and Corona Typewriter making portables. 
The case is incredibly heavy, and in its day was we have passwords...they had keys to get to the typewriter keys!
And, speaking of keys, here are some samples of typewriter jewelry in the shop...these are made of original keys not the Chinese crafty reproductions.   It is good to see that old typewriters can be reborn and not cast off!

  "There may be writing groups where people meet but it's occasional. You really do it all at your own computer or your own typewriter by yourself." ~ Anne Rice

1 comment:

Guernsey Girl said...

Just discovered your amazing blog! As a writer I have fallen in love with the typewriters (I have the one I started work with at sixteen) and the buttons and jewellery are amazing. Will definitely be keeping in touch from now on. Marilyn