The typewriter is an invention that we rarely use today. The invention of the personal computer made it obsolete. But that doesn’t mean we can’t preserve a bit of history by buying one. As such, typewriters are surprisingly popular among collectors. Some even sell for as much as $1 million. While we won’t get into that, what we’re here to do is give you some facts that you probably didn’t know about the typewriter.
We hope that these facts will amaze you and pique an interest that you probably didn’t know you had. So with all that said, let’s jump into our list of the five typewriting facts.
Correcting Errors Was A Typist’s Worst Nightmare
Correcting errors on a copy nowadays is as easy as pie. But back in the day, typists had to be very careful when typing on a typewriter. The reasons why won’t shock you at all. Namely, there was no undo button on these machines. So whenever a typist made a mistake, the person had to rewrite the whole thing all over again. You can imagine how arduous this task was. Imagine getting to the very end of the copy, only to make a grammatical error that renders the copy obsolete.
But human errors weren’t the only reason typists had to rewrite copies. Typewriters work, in a way, that each button was reserved for each letter and character in the alphabet. Each of these buttons was soaked in ink so that the letter or character could be copied on a piece of paper. But the ink needed to be fresh so that the letter could be printed on the paper. More commonly used letters would dry more often. So typists had to manually add ink all the time.
It was very common, back in the day, for the ink on some buttons to dry. So when that did happen, typists had to relive the nightmare all over again.
The First Typewriter Was Made in 1714
A bit of history for you, did you know that the invention goes back to the 18th century? The man we have to thank for that is Henry Mill. Unfortunately, Mill never managed to get it into production. The first commercially-sold typewriter was made nearly 100 years later. The man that brought the typewriter to the world was Mill, but Christopher Latham Scholes perfected and sold it commercially.
The two designs didn’t differ from one another, but it’s important we praise Mill for patenting the first typewriter.
Christopher Latham Scholes Was Similar To Mill
One of the more surprising facts is that Scholes did manage to get the first typewriter in production. However, what is interesting about that is that the company that manufactured the typewriter was the Remington Arms Company. Some of you might recognize this company as one of the pioneers of American firearms.
However, collectors know too well that Remington model typewriters go for a pretty penny. Scholes sold his patent to a man named James Densmore. Densmore needed a company to manufacture the typewriter, so he approached Remington. Strange as it sounds, Remington typewriters were very successful. But it took a few years for the company to perfect the first commercially sold typewriter.
Nowadays, Remington models are sold exclusively from private owners to collectors. But if you’re looking to score a pretty good typewriter that gets the job done nowadays, check out this post on the best typewriters today.
The USSR Weren’t Particularly Fond Of Typewriters
The 19th century was marked by the typewriter. Governments would communicate officially via letters written on typewriters. The newspaper companies would print daily publications through typewriters. Everything was geared towards this machine. But that wasn’t the case in Communist USSR.
The Soviets prohibited the use of typewriters. Every unit was owned and controlled by the KGB. Each KGB agent had its own typewriter, with many of the operatives’ names engraved on the machines. The Soviets were so against the population using the typewriter that they would investigate any private citizen that owned one.
Back then, it was common for the KGB to spy on its citizens. But anyone owning a typewriter was investigated as dissidents and political authors.
Barbara Balckburn Holds the Record For the Worls’ Fastest Typist
You’d be amazed to find out that there is a Guinness World Record for the fastest typist. That title belongs to a woman named Barbara Blackburn. The record stands since 2005. She broke the record using a Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. The record states that Blackburn typed 150 words per minute. She typed for 50 minutes straight. But the record says that she could type 170 words per minute in shorter intervals. What’s even more interesting is that Barbara could type 212 words per minute. When she got the record, Barbara said that she failed her typewriting exams at school.