Before QWERTY and After



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The Man Who Gave to the World

the Typewriter.


C. Lathome Sholes,of Milwaukee, and the

Wonderful Work We No Wrought -- He

Drew No Profit from the Fuit of His Unique XXX


[Special Millwaukee (Wia.) Letter.

Thickly covered with grimy dust

there recently reposed in the junkroom

of a Milwaukee machinist the remains

of the first successful typewriter ever

built. The machine which has revolutionized commercial correspondence

had lain thus amid ignoble surroundings,

quite forgotten, for over twenty

years, but, like John Brown's body, its

soul was marching on.

"I saved it because the Ivory in the

keys was worth something, and I

thought I could use it over again some

time," said the machinist to the

writer. "If you want to pay me for the

ivory you can have it." A bargain was

immediately struck at $1, and both

parties to the transaction were abundantly

pleased. Four times the size

of the machine on the market todday,

a drayman was hired to bring the relic

from the machinist's, and when a tape

measure was applied to it, it was

found to be two feet across by two and

a half long. It had been larger, for it

was somewhat dismantled.

When in working order there was a

printing carriage that moved across

the top and printing types that were

arranged as they now are in the standard

machines. The keyboard, as is

shown in an accompanying view, was

modeled after that of the piano, there

being a row of white and a row of black

keys, back of which was a third row of

rond brass keys, from which the idea

of te present keyboard was eventually


Every schoolboy knows, or has ample

opportunity to know, that Elis Hows

invented the sewing machine, and .e

knows, also, If he knows anything,

that the-cotton gin was Invented by

Whitaey. These ames appear in his

text books of history. The names of

Morse and Fulton are inseparably assm

elated with the telegraph and the

steamboat, and ere long the name of

Bell will be fanmiliar to the schoolboy

as connected with the origin of the

telephone. It is doubtfl if there has

been sineo the production of the sew

ing machine any invention so notable

as that of the typewriter, or one d

sisned to so completely penetrate the

business life of the world-the tele

phone, even, not excepted. Away back

in 1?67 the tclentifie American said


editorially that the man who would

invent a seecessful writlag machine

would not only secure a fortune, but

would confer a blessnag on meaknld.

That that journal spoke truer words

then it bay have realised caneot be

doubted when we bear Ih mind that

em a m mametry alom leat year sold

s5,eIsmacimns And how many knew

ewen theams of the inventor of this

wederful machime? It is V. Latham

sates. le died pt his home in il

waukee about three years ago

The story of the typewriter's orig

S-marntt able and tIterestlnr. Al

thoh or years poor health, Mr.

Sholes was a -an of great energy. His

inventive genius possessed him at all

times, and his pid was busy with me

chabeasul problms day and lnight He

had been a printer and as editor, but

at the time the typewriter was In

vented was eolector of the port of

Milwaukee, having been some years

earlier editor of the Milwaukee Sen

tineL He contrived several labor sav

ag devce for use in the publishing

business, principal among which was

a mailing machine, which was quite

generally used untrl impovements

upon it were put on the market The

invemtlen that foreshadowed the type

writer was that of a paging machine

to be used by bookidders and others.

Mr. Sholes was at work pon this

when he was collector, and a Mr.

Samuel Soale, a old acquaitance

and alo a printer, was aterested with

him in it They were trylng to po

daes a machine that would print the

serial umbers of pages pon the

leaves of blank books already bound

and also upon bank notes. They had

their models made at a little machine

sop on Stee street presided over by a

man named kleiasuteber, and this

brlught thd is easteet with Mr.

Asrls GOMden, who was getltng up a

mehiMe to supplant the plow. and

whih he called a "speder" While

r. Glidden was quite closely identi

asd with te iswetidon of the type.

writer, It so happened tOpt his ph

elpal oeatributien to its prodmtion

was te eugetion that such a ma

hims bageotteun up.

  • Wby." aid he, "eaa' you make a

maeiee that will print sttes as well

Mr. al. ad he thought he might

am ast he would ty, eanway.

Wething was den, however, until a

meih aftewed, when a esy of the

ieNthls Ameteem eams to head eona

tasini a dersrlpten of a .asine

rlM rntcid 6 O

American samed John Pratt, la a

reasidentof England. The "pteretyps"

was practically S writing macbins, a

at least embodied the typewriting

ides, and the ord a nl taininr

artiele commented on it editorially

and amid what has already been quoted

regarding the importance that would

attach to the successfu invention di

such a machine.

Gidden showed the paper to Sholes,

and the latter was ispired to begin

active experimects, Soule being also

Induced to help in the endeavor. They

made Klelasteuber s place their sew

denvous, and interested the propriet.r

and his head workman, Matthias

Sehwalbach, in the work. As with

many other inventions, there were

constant disoauragements met with

while the idea was being worked ouat

Varioui principles were tried sad then

liacarded, and the experiments were

found by no means inexpenaive.

It was in Septenber, 167, that a ma

chine was fnally produced that weould

write. The inventor was in high

feather, and letters were at once wri

ten on the machine sad seat to per

sons who had been ogniasant of the

work. So atissed was Mr. Sholes that

he had produced a machine of peas

tical commeretal value that he put the

cumbersome afair on an expeem

wagon and brougyt it to the oees ef

a Milwaukee life insurance eompaty.

"I wouldn't give the thing table

room," maid the president in his usual

gruf though well-meaning way, when

the work of the machine had been

demonstrated. The inventor Was

somewhat cast down, but he lived to

see that very company devote a large

corridor in its building to typewriters,

pereed from this machie whish

had been so heartlessly laughed at

This first typewriter, as will be see

by the illustration, was built of wood

almost entirely, and wans cred enough.

compared with the machines o today.

It was so far satisfactory, however,

that it wrote rapidly and accurately,.

although plainly not yet wlciestly

perfected to be put upon the market

One very noticeable defect was that a

sheet could not be seen until the writ

inl was completed and the plan of

printing through the paper against the

ribbon was bad, necessitating,as it did,

the use of tissue paper entirely.

One of the letters written on the hut

typewriter was sent to James Dens.I

more, Meadville, Pa., and be was as

impressed by the invention that he

asked to become financially intereted

ia Improving IL He was permitted to

join the eaterprise by paying all e

penses up to date and was given a

fourth interest in the machine. H '

did not see the invention until 10.i

He regarded it as valuable only be.

cause it demonstrated the SeablMlity

of machine writing, and he encouraged

Mr. Sholes to perseerre in bringlng it '

to a state of perfection, ofering to pay I

all expenses. A shop started atChi

eago was absadoned after ifteen mme

chines had been made, and Messs

Soule and Glidden drew out of the em

terprise, Mr. Sholes then fitting up a

workshop in a little stone building in

.the milling district of Milwauksee,

where water power from a canal was

available. Thisbildinlg has rinae die,

appeared. Within its diangy walls the

work of perfecting the Iavestin'

progressed, and by dint of work that 1

was wearng on the patience and ea

ergy of the inventor, a maecin that

was considered complete was finally

turned out It was put in the mandsof

a stenographer, and afterward sent to

JamesClephans of Wuhlngton, whome

opilnion was considered valuable. Mr.

Clephane tried the maebine, and It

gave way literally under the test A I

other was set him, ad In thb ear se

o- time several, etach having some im-I

prvement, met a similar fate. For

o.ro Mr. Sholes despaired, but Mr.

Denmore insisted that It was eally

the alvatiom of the taveation, bow. i

in the ,wek spots that woeld IaureI

it ii the market, and laid asiee m toI

necesity ot producing a machine that

was thought to be completely worked

out as to detail, ad the propristoem

looked about for a Ira so sitated as

to make t for the market, sad their

serch resulted n a contreet baing

made with as Ilion (N. Y.) rm.

It was even some time after this that

the typewriter as the general publie

kaew it was put seeesful on the

market, for with eves the aleety with

which the Ilehed meehamles thee

termed out the parts of the melhiae

masy alterations were foen see

ary. Competitors soo spreag up

but, with Sew e~aptiems, the general

pla of Shole machine was adhered

to The method of throwing up the

types, the printinge rlbbeas, the hey

boasd and eves the tram' were Is.

dised, as to speak by the rival

waters, asd seemed to he asespted as

the bestthat caudevie d at

Mr. Sheole had nm t eemmed.

Stricken down with a lung dcalty

and oaisned to his bed, e .pleged

his time Ia making impreemnsts on

his own Inveation, sad ansy et these

were Imeerpreaw ds lathmimessthen

pas o6 lb mrket. ad ar aW l .4


St. Tammany farmer., September 30, 1893, Image 1

About St. Tammany farmer. (Covington, La.) 1874-current

St. Tammany farmer. (Covington, La.) 1874-current, September 30, 1893, Image 1 ? Chronicling America ? Library of Congress

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