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Inventors Typewriters, Qwerty & Typing

Photo: Pre-electric Typewriter

By Mary Bellis

Christopher Latham Sholes(1819-1890)
Sholes was a U.S. mechanical engineer who invented the first practical modern typewriter, patented in 1868. Sholes invented the typewriter with partners S. W. Soule and G. Glidden, that was manufactured (by Remington Arms Company) in 1873. He was born February 14, 1819 in Mooresburg, Pennsylvania, and died on February 17, 1890 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Before the computer, the typewriter may have been the most significant everyday business tool. Christopher Latham Sholes and his colleagues, Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soulé, invented the first practical typewriting machine in 1866. Five years, dozens of experiments, and two patents later, Sholes and his associates produced an improved model similar to today's typewriters.

The type-bar system and the universal keyboard were the machine's novelty, but the keys jammed easily. To solve the jamming problem, another business associate, James Densmore, suggested splitting up keys for letters commonly used together to slow down typing. This became today's standard "QWERTY" keyboard.

Sholes lacked the patience required to market the new product and sold the rights to Densmore. He, in turn, convinced Philo Remington (of rifle fame) to market the device. The first "Sholes & Glidden Type Writer" was offered for sale in 1874 but was not an instant success. A few years later, improvements made by Remington engineers gave the machine its market appeal and sales skyrocketed.

Early Typewriter History
The first practical typewriter was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes, and was marketed by the Remington Arms company in 1873.

Early Office Museum - Typewriters
Large features, many photos, and several pages add up to a highly recommended site on typewriters.

The First Typewriter
It was called the "Sholes & Glidden Type Writer," and it was produced by the gunmakers E. Remington & Sons in Ilion, NY from 1874-1878.

A Brief History of Typewriters
Illustrated highlights, typewriter patents date back to 1713.

The First Commercial Typewriter
The first practical typewriter was conceived by three American inventors and friends in 1867: Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samual W. Soule.

The First American Typewriter Patent
The first American patent for a typewriter was granted in 1829 to William Austin Burt from Detroit.

The First English Typewriter Patent
In 1714, by the grace of Queen Anne, a patent was granted to the English engineer Henry Mill.

The Typewriter
The invention of at least 112 such machines preceded the successful Remington typewriter.


  • George K. Anderson of Memphis, Tennessee patented the typewriter ribbon on 9/14/1886.
  • The first electric typewriter was the Blickensderfer.
  • In 1944, IBM designs the first typewriter with proportional spacing.
  • Pellegrine Tarri made the first typewriter proven to work in 1801 and invented carbon paper in 1808.
  • In 1829, William Austin Burt invents the typographer, a predecessor to the typewriter.
  • Mark Twain enjoyed and made use of new inventions, he was the first author to submit a typewritten manuscript to his publisher.
Typewriter Parts
What to call the whatchamacallits.

Typewriter: Why QWERTY was Invented
The layout of the original typewriter's keys.

How the Typewriter Got Its Keys
More on QWERTY

The Dvorak Keyboard
An alternative to the QWERTY keyboard that is faster, but has not gained any widespread acceptance.

Computer Keyboard
The invention of the modern computer keyboard began with the invention of the typewriter.

Related Innovations
Office Innovations
Writing Instruments

©Mary Bellis

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