Industrial Revolution: Typewriter

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In 1714 the first patent for a ‘writing machine’ was given to Henry Mill of England but the first typewriter to be proven to work was built in 1808 by Italian Pellegrino Turri. The typewriter had a major impact on society mainly after the Industrial Revolution with the invention of it leading onto the eventual development of the modern computer. At the time of the invention of the typewriter the people were reluctant to use it, but in 1878 it became more popular with the public, and after several years the Remington 2 became a success. The development of the typewriter is one of the most important inventions in history as it opened new job opportunities for women during the late 1800s. The typewriter impacted greatly on society during the Industrial Revolution with long-term and short-term effects.

The business and the workplace had major changes in the office especially due to the typewriter. Before the typewriters introduction to the office, all work would have to be hand-written and all copies would be made the same way. It reduced the time and expense involved in creating documents creating documents and also encouraged the spread of systematic management. This then led onto the invention of carbon paper to make copies as the pages were typed. In the office electric typewriters were not introduced until the late 1940s (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). But before the changes in the office after the industrial Revolution changes during the Industrial Revolution were much more significant.

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At this time when the patent for the first typewriter was filed in 1714 when the Industrial Revolution was still forty-five years away. In this year Englishman, Henry Mill had a vague idea of ‘’an artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another’’(Polt, 2019) however nearly 100 years later, the first typewriter proven to work was built by Pellegrino Turri for his blind friend Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano. There is no record of what this machine looked like, but this advancement led onto at least one hundred and fifteen other models being built. One of the most famous being the ‘writing ball’ built by Danish pastor Rasmus Malling-Hansen in 1870 (Polt, 2019). Christopher L. Sholes, though, created the most famous model, the Sholes & Glidden. This machine typed only in capital letters, and it introduced the QWERTY keyboard, which can be seen on our modern day computers, laptops and even mobile phones.

These short and long-term changes became apparent in the Industrial Revolution around 1875 when the Remington 2 was on its way to success. The accomplishment of this typewriter would then lead onto greater things in the long-term, such as creating more jobs for women outside shops and factories. In 1881 the Young Women’s Christian Association in New York offered a typing class to eight women and these women were offered jobs straight after their graduation from the class (Murray, 2019). The result then leading to many working-class women seeing office jobs as an escape from the bad conditions and long, tiring hours in factories. Also the shortage of men in the Civil War in America added to the demand for women in the workplace. Not only was office work a step up in the class structure, it was cleaner and paid significantly better than in a factory of any sort. In 1880, only five percent of clerical workers were women, but by the early 1900s, this figure had climbed to seventy-five percent (Murray, 2019).

The development of the typewriter had significant effects on society during and after the Industrial Revolution. This is evident as women had more job opportunities after the introduction of the typewriter into the office. The typewriter also impacted on office life during and after the Industrial Revolution, making the everyday job of writing and copying documents more efficient.


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