Miss Invention = ?

Which typewriter will have the honor of being the first to be invented?
That depends on your definition.

Theoretical concept

In 1714, the British engineer Henry Mill obtains a patent for a machine or method to put letters on paper that are equal to the quality of printing.
Nothing suggests that he will ever build a machine.

First real machine

Who is the first real inventor of a truly existing typewriter? We will never know. Is it the Viennese count Reipperg (1760), the Swiss Jacquet (1780), the Frenchman Pingeron (1784), or the Italian Pietro Conti with his 'Tachigrafo' (1823)?

Fact is, however, that in 1808, Pellegrino Turri supplied a typewriter to a blind countess whose letters have been preserved!

First American

The first American inventor of typewriters is William
Austin Burt, who, in 1829, applies for a patent on his 'Typographer'. This writes on a long strip of paper
(as a Dymo now).
There is a kind of clock at the front, which indicates when you have more or less filled a page. Yet Burt does not succeed in getting any manufacturers enthusiastic about his invention. He puts it away and focuses his attention on other inventions.

Throng of inventors

Yet Burt's invention wakes up numerous inventors. Samual Morse goes a step further in 1840 with the invention of the electric telegraph. This means that telegraphists can transmit and understand the code quicker that they can write it down! A throng of European and American inventors show their prototypes. For example, the Italian Giuseppe Ravizza who makes no less than sixteen models of his 'Cembalo Scrivano' of which not even one goes into production.

Or the Frenchman Xavier Progin with his 'Plume Typographique' from 1833, which has type bars that strike the top of the paper so you can see what is being typed. An invention that only surfaces again in 1893! Or Gustave Bidet who tries out a type wheel in 1837, as Blick does, half a century later.

Slower than a pen

The American John Jones invents a slow but good typewriter in 1852, which he -not very originally- christens the 'mechanical typographer'. He produces 130 of them. Regrettably almost all go up in flames when his workshop burns down.

In the meantime, numerous inventors go on dauntlessly tinkering on both sides of the ocean. Yet all machines have the same weaknesses:

  • They are slower than a pen.
  • They are not manufactured industrially.

Sholes changes all that in America and Hansen in Europe.


'The Typewriter Legend' by Panasonic - p. 12-14 'The Invention of the Typewriter'



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