Friday, May 3, 2013


Imagine writing a book without the ease of a computer. What about a typewriter. Even a typewriter would be easier and faster than writing an entire novel by hand. Right? Well, maybe. In 1829, William A. Burt received a patent for his machine called a typographer: A wooden box with a swinging lever on one end used for impressing. The typeface letters were attached on the underside of the lever. Pressing down imprinted the letter on the paper. When finished, you tore off the paper like a paper towel. Unfortunately, Burt’s invention took longer than writing by hand. He improved his invention six months later to no avail. Although his inventions did a good job of typing neat letters, he couldn’t generate enough interest to make the machine a success, and Burt died without his typographer being in demand. When his printers went on strike, newspaper man, Christopher Sholes, tried his own unsuccessful attempts at inventing a typesetting machine. Finally, frustrated at his failure, he enlisted the help of another printer, Samuel Soule, and invented a number machine. A third friend, Carlos Glidden, amazed at this invention, suggested a version to type letters. In June of 1968 they received their patent and created a machine that broke more often than it worked. A fourth man, James Densmore, entered the mix and bought out Soule and Glidden. He furnished the funds to make thirty machines, each one better than the one before. In 1871, they felt they were ready to begin manufacturing. In 1873, the men offered their machine to the gun manufacturer, Remington and Sons. They were offered either a lump sum or royalties. Sholes took the cash and received twelve thousand dollars. Densmore chose the royalty and received a million and a half. I wonder if during their frustrating times of trial and error, any of these visionary men knew just how much their invention would change the world? How much it would improve the working conditions of women or how much their invention would change over the years? In my second Harvey Girl novel, releasing spring of 2014, my main character is all about modern things. Hair, clothes, speech. I can’t help but wonder how this feisty gal would have handled something as amazing as a typewriter. I wrote my first story on this typewriter of my mother’s. Last year for Christmas, my son found one at a garage sale and bought it for me. While I don’t type my stories on it, preferring the ease of a laptop, we leave each other messages. I love the clackety-clack of it’s keys. What did you type your first story on or did you choose to write it by hand? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 gift card to Amazon. And stop by my newly designed website to say howdy!


  1. timely for me! Just yesterday I explained to a young co worker why the big key on the keyboard was named RETURN and explained how we used to have to slap that carriage return back by hand.

    but oh... how I loved my first typewriter!

    Thanks Cynthia!

  2. The first typewriter I played with was a big old black manual, cool looking but took finger muscles to type!
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

  3. I loved my dad's typewriter when I was little! I was totally fascinated by the carriage return! Seems like a few times I gave it too hearty of a push and dad would not be happy! lol In high school I had typing classes and by then the typewriters were electronic. My graduation gift from my parents was a typewriter. Years later, I gave it back to my dad, who still prefers a typewriter over a computer, as they are less frustrating to him. :)

  4. My mom worked on an IBM Selectric for 20 years, and it was so funny to see one in the Smithsonian as a piece of history. I took a photo of Mark Twain's typewriter at my historical society, since Twain married a local Elmira girl, Olivia Langdon. The style of these old pieces are so pretty to me. Great post!

  5. I am older (and a reader..not a writer) so I recall all of the typewriters shown (except first one), those were the days. I loved to type, but it was definitely harder. I always worked in secretarial fields. It's been so nice to see the great changes....and now..computers! Wonderful!
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. My first writings were of course by hand, years ago...many years ago...sigh. Then I got a manual typewriter. Next I moved up to an electric typewriter. When I first evolved out of that I moved into the electronic world. I wrote my first nonfiction book on my new Word Processor I purchased from Sears. I thought I was on the cutting edge with typing until not long after I realized a home computer was the emerging trend. Yet I kept that WP for a lot of years and it served me well. I just recently threw it out because of space issues. Now I wish I kept it.

  7. I remember my first typewriter and the "hum" it made - it seems so funny now that we use laptops and do so much more that just type but yes I enjoy typewriters - they are a classic and I hope we don't forget where we have come from. but I learned to type on one and had to use the eraser tape to fix mistakes in my homework. =) truckredford(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. I remember playing on my mom's typewriter - loved it! I was always mesmerized by the keys hitting the paper. What a neat story! I bet old Mr. Sholes had wished he had taken the royalties over cash. ;)
    Susan P
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

  9. I love the sound of an old fashioned type writer...and the 'ding' when you slid the return bar over. Hahaha....aging myself. :)
    I wasn't too happy whenever it came to replacing the ribbon..what a mess!
    Very interesting post!
    God bless.

  10. I have not written a story, but I remember playing secretary on my Dad's typewriter as a child. In high school I learned how to type on a typewriter, but I certainly hated changing the I was so grateful when they invented the cartridge that was enclosed and you never touched the 'ribbon' at all. The corrector ribbon they came up with was very handy for me as

  11. Did you know that the top row of keys were arranged so the typewriter salesmen could easily type the word "typewriter"?

    I remember Royal, Remington, and Underwood typewriters ~ I did not know Remington was the same as the gunsmiths ~ and shaving ~ company?

    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

  12. I had so much fun playing with my grandpa's typewriter, like the second one pictured, when I was little. That is forever in my internal memory book.


  13. I have never been a writer by proffesion, but I have had plenty of experience with typewriters. My handwriting was always attrocious, so I was glad to be able to type. I took several secretarial classes in high school and college. It was strange when I had to switch to an electric one, and then to a computer. But the computer is my favorite.


  14. I think I wrote my first story by hand because it would have been a short one for school. I have used a typewriter a few times. shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

  15. I am not a writer, by occupation, but did write some stories in high school & college - I used an electric typewriter.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win the gift card!

  16. I was gone this past week and love all the comments. ChaplainDebbie is the winner of the $10 Amazon gift card.