Monday, 26 November 2012


Here’s mine, still going strong after eighty years – my trusty little Remington.


And here is the last ever typewriter to be made in Britain – produced last week, and destined for the Science Museum.

last uk typewriter

The first idea for a typewriter came in 1714- Englishman Henry Mill patented his idea for "an artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another."

Then in 1808 that Italian Pellegrino Turri built the first working machine. But is wasn’t till 1870, when Danish pastor Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented his 'writing ball’, that production of typewriter-like machines began on an industrial level. Perhaps he wanted to speed up his sermon writing?

Typewriters as we know them first appeared in 1874 with the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer in the USA. This brought in the QWERTY keyboard, and was designed to solve problems during printing, separating frequently-used pairs of type-bars so that they would not clash and get stuck. This model looked very like a sewing machine and had limited success – but Remington later became the commercial leaders in typewriters and is the basis of all subsequent machines.

acer keyboard

I am typing this on an Acer SK-1688 keyboard – it is all electronic, with no typebars to clash – but we still use the qwertyuiop array.

I love the fact that the longest common word you can type with the keys along the top row is…


…but for future generations, that information will be utterly meaningless, as they may have no idea what these machines were!


  1. I miss typewriters very much indeed. Gee Whiz, going into the Science Museum, I AM old.

  2. That is fasinating. I love interesting facts like that.
    I remember our typing booth, when I worked all those years at British Gas. I would ring and leave a dictated letter on a dictaphone and it would magically appear the next next day.
    ...What memories

  3. We've had a necessary two days with no central heating. Took PC and I straight back to the days of racing from the living room fire to your water bottle in bed. It's amazing how much changes in less than a lifetime. I'm definitely getting old!


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