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They Invented it

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by Fenella Saunders

In 1714 British engineer Henry Mill patented a machine "for the impressing or transcribing of letters" but never built it. During the early 1800s manufacturers built writing machines of all shapes and sizes, but all the devices were slower to use than writing by hand. The first speedy typewriter was patented in 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel Soulé, and manufactured by E. Remington and Sons in 1874; it introduced the now-standard "qwerty" keyboard. The Remington was an understrike typewriter whose keys obscured the paper. The Reverend Thomas Oliver patented an overstrike, visible-writing machine in 1892, to little fanfare. A similar machine, patented a year later by German Franz Wagner and built by John T. Underwood, gained fame as the Underwood typewriter. Thomas Edison invented an electric typewriter in 1872. In 1927 the Schulz Player Piano Co. built an "Auto-typist" that used a punched-paper tape to store form letters and type them out on command, the forerunner of the word processor.

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