Design Con 2015

1st practical typewriter is patented, August 26, 1843

-August 26, 2014

On August 26, 1843, inventor Charles Thurber received a patent for the first practical typewriter, invented to aid the nervous and the blind.

Thurber received US patent 3228 for "improvements in machines for printing." He described his invention as a new and useful machine for printing by hand by pressing upon keys which contain the type.

Though it worked slowly and was bulky it had the essential parts of the modern typewriter. Thurber was the first to put the paper on a roller and allow it to move horizontally for accurate spacing.

Source: Worcester Historical Museum


The keyboard on the machine was circular and the paper was located below the keys. The wheel with the keys would be turned to bring the type into place and move the type-face over inked rollers. Thurber customized his machines making some versions smaller or with only capital letters, but his design was never manufactured commercially.

The modern typewriter design was patented in 1868 and went on to great commercial success.

Thurber intended his machine be used to aid the blind, as they could feel the raised letters on the keys, and "the nervous," or those who didn't have the best handwriting.

In 1844 Thurber used one of his machines to compose a letter to the Boston Institute for the Blind offering to provide a machine for the institute. You can view that letter here.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on August 26, 2013 and edited on August 26, 2014.

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