Typewriters have had a long history ever since the invention of the Hansen Writing Ball in the late 1800s. Ever since then, typewriters steadily improved in quality and finally gave way to the modern method of using keyboards on computers.
History of the IBM Typewriter
The IBM typewriter has a special history of its own as it was among the first successful electric typewriter to have ever been manufactured. The history of electric typewriter started a few years before IBM’s involvement in the typewriter business. From 1924 to 1925, N. E. Electric company partnered with Remington to produce electric typewriters. Their partnership was a success until Remington was unable to accept the terms of a contact between them and N. E. Electric and thus, their typewriter went out of production. N. E. Electric then branched out into several departments, and the rights to producing the typewriter ended up in the hands of Electromatic Typewriters Inc.
In 1933, IBM stepped into the typewriter business and acquired Electromatic Typewriters Inc. and invested $1 million in the redesigning of the company’s typewriter. Later on in 1935, IBM’s Model 01 was launched and it became the first successful typewriter in the United States. From then on, IBM produced several other successful typewriter models well into the late sixties.
The success of IBM Typewriters
IBM’s typewriters were very successful for a number of reasons. This was because IBM incorporated useful features into their typewriters. These included visible writing, which allowed typists to actually see what they were typing. Furthermore, IBM incorporated the shift key into their designs. The shift key was a revolutionary addition to typewriters as it provided more functionality and less bulkiness to the typewriters. Instead of having different keyboards for uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols, typewriters could now use only one keyboard for everything.
Apart from incorporating the two features above, IBM invented two more improvements and added them to their typewriters. The first invention was power operation. This greatly improved the typist’s speed and versatility as the typewriters now ran on electricity. The second improvement that IBM developed was proportional spacing. This made typists neater and more presentable. It was due to IBM’s incorporation and invention of such ideas that their typewriters garnered so much success.
Famous People Who Use(d) IBM Typewriters
There are several famous people who have used the IBM typewriter. They include authors such as P. J. O’Rourke, David Sedaris and Hunter S. Thompson. These authors went on to produce famous works that are well-known worldwide. They are also very sentimental about their typewriters. David Sedaris loves typewriters so much that he complained when his partner tried to replace it with a MacBook Air. Hunter S. Thompson died beside his red IBM Selectric while P. J. O’Rourke loves his vintage typewriter because, unlike modern computers, it offers fewer distractions from social media.
Why Are Typewriters Still Popular?
Despite the great advances in modern computing, many people still use the mechanical typewriter for several reasons. Some of them are old individuals who just have sentimental value for the typewriters while others are just enthusiasts who use them because they want to look cool. However, there are various advantages to using typewriters. First, they have no distractions as compared to modern computers where users are constantly bombarded with notifications from social media.
Second, people still use typewriters because of the discipline that the machines instil in them. Several authors have been quoted saying that they like using their typewriters because they make them more careful when typing. The reason is that mistakes made by a typewriter cannot be removed by using a backspace key. Perhaps the most important reason why people still use typewriters is convenience. A mechanical typewriter does not need electricity to function. Thus, it can be used anywhere and at any time.
Typewriters have come a long way since their invention in the early 18th century. They have been around for more than two hundred years and will probably be around for two hundred more. If you are a fan of the vintage typewriter, now may be the perfect time to get one.