This is a Remington Standard No. 6 typewriter from the museum’s collection.  It illustrates a funny quirk of invention:  things we’re familiar with seem obvious, but often we’re fooling ourselves.  This typewriter came into production sometime near 1894, but it was lacking one thing we think of as obvious in any typing machine.  This was a “blind” typewriter, meaning the mechanism imprints letters on the paper in a position the typist cannot see, so you must type an entire line before you can see if you got it right. It would be a couple more years before Underwood figured out how to make a key move so it would hit the paper in full view of the typist.

I suspect people using machines like this wished they could see what they were typing, it just wasn’t possible with the current technology.  This typewriter was full of technological advances over earlier machines, but seeing the key hit the page wasn’t one of them.  It’s still an impressive machine, with a small force depressing any key causing a piece of type to fly toward a single point on a piece of paper to leave a clear mark, but a few more pieces were necessary to effectively bend the mechanism back on itself to bring it into your field of view.

This typewriter must have been useful, as they sold almost 200,000 of them, but I sure am glad the mechanism continued to improve into the twentieth century when I first encountered one of these machines.

There’s a very similar machine in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, which you can read about here.

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