The creation of the typewriter led to the development of the current computer keyboard. So, who was the first to create the typewriter? The typewriter, like many other contemporary devices such as the aircraft, car, telephone, and television, was invented by a group of individuals who contributed ideas and innovations that finally resulted in a commercially viable product (and the computer keyboard).
Francesco Rampazzetto (1510-1576), Prior of the Guild of Booksellers and Printers in Venice (Venezia), was the first (known to us) to design the scrittura tattile, a machine for impressing characters on paper, in 1575. (it seems the machine was an auxiliary device for the blind).
Then we meet Henry Mill (1683-1771), an Englishman who worked as a waterworks engineer for the New River Company (which oversaw the New River, an artificial canal in England that began in 1613 to provide fresh drinking water to London). Henry Mill was the owner of two English patents, Nos. 376 and 395, issued in 1706 and 1714, respectively. The first was for Coaches, Chariots, and Other Vehicles Springs (some kind of a shock-absorber). The second patent, issued on January 7, 1714, was for a Machine for Transcribing Letters, which looks quite similar to a contemporary typewriter.
The patent stated:...Our Trusty and Welbeloved Henry Mill, gent., hath by his petitcon humbly represented, that he hath by his great study and paines and expence invented and brought to perfection an artificial machine or method for impressing or transcribing of letters, one after another, as in writing, whereby all writing whatever may be engrossed in paper or parchment so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print; that the said
We don't have a drawing of the machine, and there's no evidence that Henry Mill constructed it himself. In the early nineteenth century, the Italian Giuseppe Pellegrino Turri, a noble and competent technician, created the first functional model of a typewriter. Turri also came up with the idea of using carbon paper as ink for his machine. The machine is almost unknown, although some of the letters printed on it have survived (16 letters are preserved in a museum in Reggio Emilia).
Pellegrino Turri, according to mythology, had fallen in love with the lovely Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano (1781-1841), a nephew of the Italian poet Labindo. Slowly, the vision of the young contessa blurs, distorts, and vanishes. So, in the early 1800s, Turri devised a machine composed of keys and metal arms topped with raised characters in the hopes of correcting her illegible writing and allowing her to privately converse with her friends (including him). An arm hit a piece of carbon paper onto a sheet of paper as the Countess pressed a key. Malling-Writing Hansen's Ball
According to another story, Carolina's brother, Agostino Fantoni da Fivizzano (1777-1847), built the machine in 1802 to assist his blind sister, whereas Turri simply modified Agostino's contraption and produced carbon paper in 1806.
Danish clergyman Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented and patented the world's first commercially manufactured typewriter (see above picture) in 1865, and it was initially patented and put into production in 1870.
Malling-Hansen ordered the most often used letters to be pushed by the quickest writing fingers, with consonants to the right and vowels to the left (see figure below). The Writing Ball was an extremely rapid speed typing machine because to its structure and the positioning of the letters on short radial pistons. Carbonized paper or a ribbon are used to print the type on a paper surface. The paper was linked to a cylinder on the original model, which moved with the assistance of an electromagnetic battery, making the writing ball the first electric typewriter in theory.
Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel Soule of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (US patent No. 79265) created the first commercially successful typewriter in 1867. Sholes and Glidden eventually sold their invention to Densmore and Yost (for $12000), who partnered with E. Remington and Sons (a well-known sewing machine company) to market the machine as the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer.
Remington started producing its first typewriter in March of 1873. It featured a QWERTY keyboard layout, which was slowly adopted by other typewriter manufacturers as a result of the machine's popularity. The original Remington typewriters even included a foot pedal to regulate carriage returns (similar to sewing machines). The shift key, which allowed users to type both capital and lower-case letters with the same keys (1878, in the Remington Model 2 typewriter); printing on the upper side of the roller (1880); the tab key, which allowed users to set margins (1897), and other improvements aided the typewriter's acceptance over the next several years.
Although Thomas Edison invented an electric typewriter in 1872, it was not until the 1920s that the first usable machine was released. Sholes and Glidden typewriter by Remington, 1867
So, in this high-tech era of computers and plastics, how did we come to where we are now?
Punch card and teletype technology were used to create the first computer keyboards. By the 1930s, Herman Hollerith had invented the first keypunch machines, which had text and numeric input keys similar to those found on standard typewriters.
The Binac computer (seen below) had a Typewriter-Keyboard Unit in 1948. The keyboard featured eight keys that represented the octal numbers (0–7) and were used to program or load data into the computer and memory. The data input from the keyboard and data stored in selected sections of the memory were printed on the electro-mechanically operated typewriter. BINAC is a computer.
Typewriters were the primary mode of data input and output for computers from the early 1940s until the late 1960s, when they were incorporated into what were known as computer terminals. Researchers at MIT began experimenting with direct keyboard input to computers in 1954. Users used punched cards or paper tape to feed their programs into computers before then. In the beginning of 1955, Douglas Ross, a Teaching Assistant in the Mathematics Department, submitted a letter pushing for direct access. Due to its cheap cost and versatility, he felt that a Flexowriter (an electrically operated typewriter) attached to an MIT computer might be used as a keyboard input device. Thus, in 1955, MIT's Whirlwind became the first computer in the world to enable users to submit instructions via a keyboard, proving the utility and convenience of a keyboard input device.