A Very Brief Visual History of the Typewriter

This excerpt from a World War II-era instructional film includes an overview of early typewriters. Courtesy of the Prelinger Archive, Basic Typing is 30 minutes long and available in two parts (part Ipart II), in case you happen to be extremely interested in a career as a typist, circa 1944. 

Higher resolution images of these historic models of typewriters are available thanks to Wikipedia. The first model mentioned in the film, the Typographer, patented by William Austin Burt in 1829, was America's first typewriter. An illustration of Burt demonstrating the device and a diagram from the patent are below.

The Sholes & Glidden Type-Writer, below, was the first to feature a QWERTY keyboard, in 1873.

For more images of typewriters through the ages, see Nicholas Jackson's "Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors.

For more films from the Prelinger Archive, visit http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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