Friday, September 29, 2006

Porter's Telegraph College
No. 126 Washington Street,

(Court House Square)
The most complete Telegraph School in the country, having Five Departments. Each Department complete in itself, viz: Primary, Penmanship, Type Writing, Air-Line Telegraph, Lectures.
The Chicago City Telegraph Line in connection with this Institution is Forty Miles in extent, and supports Fifty Offices wherein students may earn their board after two months' practice, and before graduating may earn back their entire Tuition.
By touching keys like a Piano this machine produces letters faster than the most rapid penman. Its use in this College enables Students to become expert Telegraphers without regard to their penmanship.
Competing Telegraph Lines are increasing the demand for Operators. Young Men and Ladies should consider the advantages of a Telegraphic Education.
For Type Writer and College Circulars, address
Principal Porter's Tel. Col., Chicago, Ill.

-- Saint Joseph Herald, Vol.3, No.29 (November 21, 1868), p.3, l.7.

In 1868, Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes' Type Writer was adopted by Porter's Telegraph College, Chicago. It was his second model and, being different from his first model, it had a piano-like two-row keyboard (shown below, taken from U. S. Patent No.79265). It had twenty-eight keys, thus it could print capital letters (A to Z), comma and period, but not numerals (cf. "Writing by Machinery", Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, Vol.26, No.236 (October 6, 1869), p.1, l.4). Furthermore, its printing result was too thin to read. Therefore, Mr. Sholes began to improve his Type Writer, first in its platen (cf. U. S. Patent No.118491), then in its keyboard (cf. U. S. Patent No.182511). Sholes' second Type Writer

Monday, September 18, 2006

QWERTY was devised by Christopher Sholes, who began his typewriter-building experiments in 1867. Sholes's first keyboard used piano keys in a single row, with the letters in alphabetical order. But he was soon forced to change that arrangement, because his type bars responded sluggishly. When he struck one key soon after another, the second key's type bar jammed the first bar before the first could fall back, and the first letter was printed again. Key jamming was still an occasional problem some 80 years later, when I had chicken pox, but at least by then the type bars struck the paper from the front side, so you could immediately see what was happening and separate the keys with your fingers. Alas, with Sholes's machine and most other typewriters until the early part of the century, the type bars struck the invisible rear side of the paper, and you didn't know the bars had jammed until you pulled out the page and saw that you had typed 26 lines of uninterrupted E's instead of the Gettysburg Address. -- Jared Diamond: "The Curse of QWERTY", Discover, Vol.18, No.4 (April 1997), pp.34-42.

Sholes' first type-writing machineMr. Chris­to­pher Latham Sholes' first type-writing ma­chine, whose patent was filed on Oc­to­ber 11, 1867, had a two-row key­board, nei­ther single-row nor piano-like (shown right, taken from U. S. Patent No.79868). Mr. Sholes adopted a piano-like keyboard in his second model that was patented on June 23, 1868 (cf. U. S. Patent No.79265). His second model had a two-row keyboard with twenty-eight keys (A to Z, comma and period), which resembled the Hughes-Phelps printing telegraph, as I mentioned before. Prof. Jared Diamond didn't investigate the early type-writing machines by Mr. Sholes, but did write an imaginative story about them.

Friday, September 08, 2006

In their innocence Sholes and his partners first arranged the letters of the typewriter's keyboard in alphabetical order, but the uselessness of this system soon became apparent. ... You didn't have to type very fast for the letters to rise up and jam at the platen (the roller of a typewriter), the very place where they were supposed to print. To end that annoyance, James Densmore asked his son-in-law, a Pennsylvania school superintendent (who surely should have known), what letters and combinations of letters appeared most often in the English language. Then, in 1872, Densmore and Sholes put what they believed to be the most used characters, as far apart as possible in the type basket and ended up with the horror of qwerty. -- Charles Lekberg: "The Tyranny of Qwerty", Saturday Review of Science, Vol.55, No.40 (September 30, 1972), pp.37-40.

Mr. James Densmore had no son-in-law in 1872. His only daughter, Miss Tina Densmore, married with Mr. Edward Joseph Delehanty in Greenville, Pennsylvania, on July 23, 1874, thereafter, Mr. James Densmore got his son-in-law. Mr. James Densmore couldn't ask his son-in-law anything about the English language before the first "Sholes & Glidden Type-Writer" was manufactured in 1873 with the original QWERTY keyboard (shown below, taken from U. S. Patent No.207559).

Original QWERTY keyboard

Friday, September 01, 2006

To improve the usefulness of typewriters, the Smith Premier Typewriter Company introduced the Smith Premier, which used a full keyboard with separate keys for upper and lower case letters. Remington, on the other hand, came up with innovative Remington Model 2, which used the shift key to type both upper and lower case letters using a single character set on the keyboard and dual-faced type bars. This keyboard was better ergonomically designed to reduce the mechanical movement of the hand. Even though the demand for typewriters was virtually nonexistent at the time, the few typewriter manufacturers firmly believed in the great potential of the product. -- Sridhar Condoor: "Importance of Teaching the History of Technology", Proceedings Frontiers in Education 34th Annual Conference, Vol.1 (October 21, 2004), Session T2G, pp.7-10.

It was 1889 when the Smith Premier Typewriter Company introduced the first Smith Premier (cf. "Improvement the Order of the Age", The Century Magazine, Vol.37, No.6 (April 1889), Advertising Supplement, p.75). And it was more than ten years behind Remington No.2 (cf. "The Improved Type-Writer", The Type-Writer Magazine, Vol.2, No.1 (January 1878), pp.10-11,17,19-24). In the 1880's, even before the Smith Premier was introduced, the demand for typewriters were already existent and increased more and more (cf. "The Future of Writing Machines", The Cosmopolitan Shorthander, Vol.7, No.1 (January 1886), pp.4-6). Furthermore, Smith Premier was not the first typewriter with a full keyboard. The first one was Caligraph No.2, which was introduced by the American Writing Machine Company in 1882 (cf. "The Caligraph", The Caligraph Quarterly, Vol.1, No.1 (October 1882), pp.1-2,20-21,30). If Dr. Sridhar Condoor really emphasizes the importance of teaching the history of technology, at least he should clarify the sources of "the history" in his paper. Or he would make such a nonsense to compare the debuts of Smith Premier and Remington No.2.