Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Twelfth Night to United States And Macedo >> Typewriter_P1


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TYPEWRITER, a machine operated by means of a manual keyboard, which produces characters resembling those of ordinary letter press, as a substitute for handwriting, by the impress of type.

History.— The first successful typewriter was an American invention, and was so far perfected in the late seventies of the 19th cen tury that many thousands were then being made to supply the demand. The archives of the British Patent Office show that in 1714 a patent for a writing machine — the first type writer known — was applied for by Henry Mill, a London engineer. No drawing of his machine it extant, and its construction is not known. In 1784 a French invention appeared, designed to make embossed or raised char acters for the blind. In 1829, W. A. Burt patented the first American machine. A French machine of 1833 was provided with the first manual keyboard. In 1843, Charles Thur ber, then of Worcester, Mass., secured a patent for a typewriter, and two years later a second patent, but his machines were never perfected for practical use. About this period Sir Charles Wheatstone invented several writing machines, the models of which repose in the South Kensington Museum. The year 1855 saw the production of Foucault's writing machine for the blind. Indeed most of the efforts of early inventors were directed to producing machines for the use of the blind, and embossed characters were general.

In 1856, Alfred E. Beach, of. New York, one of the proprietors of the Scientific American, secured a patent for a typewriter which em bodied the characteristic basket-like disposition of type-bars and type used on the standard machines of to-day. The Beach machine was for printing embossed letters for the blind. Contemporaneous with this inventor. Dr. S. W. Francis, of New York, was working on the same line. He arranged his keys in a circle around the instrument, used an inking ribbon, a traveling paper-frame • and an alarm-bell, rung as the end of the line was approached, thus embodying many teatures of present-day instruments. Thomas Hall, of New York (inventor of the Florence sewing machine), also was experimenting on a type writer about this time. In 1859 he learned of the prior patents and tried to purchase them. In June 1867 he obtained a patent of his own; and one of his machines, printing large and small letters, was shown at the Paris Exposi tion of 1867. The paper was placed on a table, which slid under the bottom of the machine. The spacing for letters varied with their thickness, thus producing work more resembling that of type than does the iden tically spaced typewriting of recent machines. Hall struggled against much discouragement, and never succeeded in bringing his machine into use. In 1881 he secured a patent on another type of machine, with a perforated dial-plate and rubber cylinder. It achieved a partial success, but of late years it has been turned out in cheap form as a toy. John Pratt, of Center, Ala., secured a United States patent in 1868 for what he called his Pterotype — a complicated machine which did not come into public use. This brings us to the recent history of the typewriter in which it was brought to the high degree of efficiency we witness to-day. Charles Latham Sholes, of

Milwaukee, Wis., with Samuel W. Soule and Carlos Glidden, became associated: the first two were trying to construct a numbering machine and Glidden suggested developing the idea into a typewriter. After months of work Sholes left the others, and with James Dens more, of Meadville, Pa., as financial backer, pushed the invention to completion, and secured a patent in June 1868. In 1873 it was put on the market as the Sholes and Glidden typewriter. E. Remington and Sons, of Ilion, N. Y., became the manufacturers of the ma chine and, in 1874, 400 were sold. These early machines printed only one kind of letter so i that the writing was in capitals only. The n troduction of small letters occurred in 1877 and many minor improvements were added from time to time. As this machine, the first which proved a commercial success, embodies most of the fundamental elements of present day machines, an enumeration of these will not be amiss. The Remington, as it is now known, is characterized by the itshift,P by which the same keys print large or small letters as de sired. The radial type-bars, forming when at rest a sort of basket, form another common feature. On the top of the frame is a roller covered with India-rubber; and by its side and parallel, a smaller roller. Between these the top edge of a sheet of paper is inserted, and brought into• proper position toreceive the first line of "writing.° Immediately in front of the rubber cylinder (in the "visible beneath (in the °invisible writers"), and in line with its axis, is the ink-ribbon; and in front of the ribbon at a point in the centre every letter is made to appear in suc cession to do the writing. The ink-ribbon is automatically, raised in tront of the type-bar when a key is depressed, and falls back to its original position as the bar recedes, this per mitting the typist to see the impression on the paper. During operation the ribbon is gradu ally unwound from a spool or holder at one side of the machine on to another at the op posite side; the movement of the ribbon may be reversed at will. The carriage with the platen moves along one space to the left as each key is released. This movement and stoppage is regulated by a coiled spring and strap, and a ratchet escapement. For tabulation special column stops are set at the desired dis tance and upon depressing the tabular key the carriage advances to the left until the next column stop is reached. The types are usually of steel or some hard alloy and are fixed in the ends of a series of levers, each lever hav ing its fulcrum at a point in the circumference of the central opening. The key for forming the spaces between the words extends nearly the whole length of the keyboard, so that it can be readily worked, no matter in what position the hands may be at the close of every word. The depression of each key causes the letter with which it is connected to strike the ink-ribbon, thereby transferring the form of the letter to the paper. On removal of the pressure, the type descends by its own gravity.

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