History of the Typewriter

Forfatter: Geo. Carl Mares

År: 1909

Forlag: Guilbert Pitman

Sted: London

Sider: 318

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—41 — The London papers, and most of the technical Press, entered very largely into the merits of a machine which would permit writing to be executed by mechanical means. Very many sober-minded persons ridiculed the idea, whilst others, waxing enthusiastic, proclaimed the near advent of a time, when speeches should be followed verbatim by some such means. Others, again, adopted a medium course, and were content to await developments, contri- buting each of them his quota to the general fund of know- ledge. It was whilst these discussions were proceeding that the Scientific American published an article which was the direct cause of the invention of the ultimate machine. This article, after stating that not only would the inventor of a successful writing machine confer a benefit to all man- kind but would also, incidentally, reap a fortune, proceeded as follows : “ A machine by which it is assumed that a man may print his thoughts twice as fast as he can write them, and with the advantage of the legibilty, compactness, and neatness of print, has lately been exhibited before the London Society of Arts, by the inventor, Mr. Pratt, of Alabama. The subject of typewriting is one of the in- teresting aspects of the near future. Its manifest feasibility and advantage indicate that the laborious and unsatis- factory performance of the pen must, sooner or later, become obsolete for general purposes. Legal copying, and the writing and delivering of sermons and lectures, not to speak of letters and editorials, will undergo a revolution as remarkable as that effected in books by the invention of printing, and the weary process of learning penmanship in schools will be reduced to the acquirement of the art of writing one’s own signature, and playing on the literary piano above described, or rather on its improved suc- cessors.” With one solitary exception—the sentence re- lating to penmanship—this article was prophetic in every word. This article, published as it was in the leading scientific paper in the United States, drew to itself a considerable amount of attention, and it was shown to Charles Latham Sholes. Long before Pratt’s machine had attained notoriety, how- ever, Mr. Sholes had been engaged in perfecting an invention for printing in the numbers of pages in bound books, and it is recorded that whilst so engaged, a friend put to him the question, “ If numbers, why not letters ? ” Nothing,