ASME-Landmark:Sholes & Glidden "Type Writer"


Designed in 1873 by Christopher Latham Sholes (1819-1890), with Carlos Glidden, Samuel Soulé, and Mathias Schwalbach, the Sholes & Glidden "Type Writer" was the first commercially successful device that rapidly printed alphanumeric characters on paper in any order.

Manufactured by E. Remington and Sons, the Sholes & Glidden incorporated designs that were found in models created by earlier inventors. However, the arrangement of the keys was a feature that had not been present in previous models. This model employed a lever-action key mechanism, inked ribbon, and cylindral, shifting platen. It also incorporated the "QWERTY" keyboard layout, which minimized sticking keys. With these improvements in hand, Sholes and James Densmore, a former newspaper associate of Sholes', rented a former wheelwright's mill and equipped the shop, using water power from an adjacent canal. The machines were produced individually, which allowed changes in the design to be incorporated as the manufacturing process continued.

Soon, Densmore outsourced the production of the Sholes and Glidden typewriter to Remington. The landmark typewriter represents the first commercially successful typewriter to be manufactured in quantity for sale to the public, and it was the first typewriter that enabled operators to write significantly faster than a person could write by hand. It also set off a revolution in the conduct of commerce, business, and communications. As one historian noted at the time, "perhaps one of the greatest or even the greatest achievement of the typewriter is the transformation it wrought in the social order." The typewriter created a demand for typists that enabled women to enter the business world in unprecedented numbers. See ASME website for more information