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Beginning in the 1880s, Remington faced many challengers in the typewriter market.  In 1880, George Yost’s American Writing Machine Company introduced the Caligraph No. 1.  An advertisement in the November 19, 1887 issue of Harper’s Weekly showed a Caligraph model with its double-keyboard (in contrast to Remington’s shift-key model), a space bar on each side, and an extended front housing its leverage system.  The word “typewriter,” which had not yet become universal for the machine, was not used in the ad.  Notice that the price of the 1887 Caligraph was only $85 (1600 in 2002 dollars), a considerable reduction from the $125 of the earlier Remingtons.  Yost’s company announced 20,000 Caligraphs in daily use in 1887, but two-and-a-half years later that figure had risen to 100,000 .  The same ad in the May 24, 1890 issue bragged of its “Greatest Speed on Record!!”—129 words per minute blindfolded.


The same page of the November 19, 1887 issue carrying the Caligraph ad also included an ad for a “Hall Type-Writer.”  The latter was actually an index machine, which was developed as a less expensive alternative to the typewriter (here, $40, or about 750 in 2002 dollars).  Instead of a keyboard, it had a small bank of letters (the index), not unlike the numbers on a modern calculator, on which the user would press a letter and then perform another function to print the letter.  Despite the ad targeting “Business houses,” the index machine was not aimed primarily at office work, but those doing occasional typing.  The ad reflected this reality with its claim that the Hall typewriter was “a favorite with clergymen and literary men,” and its endorsement by Celia Thaxter, a well-known poet.  By the turn of the century, the triumphant typewriter had forced the index machine to survive only as a children’s toy.


The November 3, 1888 issue of Harper’s Weekly revealed the increasing popularity of the typewriter as well as the diversity of the machine’s look, which would not be standardized until the early-twentieth century.  In each of the four columns of an ad page appeared a Hammond for a different typewriter:  Hammond, World, Crandall, and Remington.  The Hammond (col. 1) had a curved front (hinting at the ergonomic computer keyboards of the future), initially a unique letter arrangement (not QWERTY), and a rotating, cylindrical type wheel (instead of type bars) that anticipated the type ball of the IBM Selectric of 1960.  (“Manifolding” in the ad text refers to making multiple copies with carbon paper.)


The World typewriter (col. 2) was another inexpensive index machine.  The user moved the index pointer to the correct letter, and then pressed the corresponding key to type it.  The Crandall (col. 3) also had a curved keyboard, which was arranged in only two rows (by 1893 it included the regular three-row QWERTY keyboard).  The New Model Crandall (introduced in 1886 and advertised here) was one of the most ornately decorated of all typewriters, with painted roses and gold scrolls and mother-of-pearl inlay.  It used a single-element, rotating type sleeve (similar to the Hammond type wheel) rather than type bars.  The Remington ad (col. 3-4) highlighted its success at a typing “Championship of the World.”


One of the biggest rivals to Remington was the Smith Premier Typewriter Company (which became Smith-Corona in 1926).  An ad in the November 15, 1890 issue of Harper’s Weekly described how the Press of the State of New York had adopted the Smith Premier to transcribe its telegraph dispatches.  Above that ad is one for a combined typewriting table and office desk, designed to fit major brands of typewriters (Smith is not mentioned) and used in “first-class offices,” such as Harper & Brothers.


Although the Crandall ad mentioned above claimed its machine provided “Writing in plain sight,” the Daugherty typewriter of 1891 is usually credited with being the first model that allowed the typist to read the text as it was being typed.  Before that time, typewriters used an under-stroke or up-strike mechanism whereby pressing a letter key forced the type bar to strike the underside of the platen (the roller around which the paper rested).  In order to see the typed result, the machine’s carriage had to be lifted.  The solution was a front-stroke mechanism in which the type bar hit the paper on the platen from the front.  An ad for the Daugherty Visible model appeared in the February 22, 1896 issue proclaiming, “Writing All in Sight—All the Time.”  Its type bars can be contrasted with those of the Smith Premier, an under-stroke “blind” typewriter, illustrated in the ad above the Daugherty.

Harper's Weekly References
1) November 19, 1887, p. 846, col. 3-4
Caligraph typewriter

2) May 24, 1890, p. S3, col. 4
illustrated ad, Caligraph typewriter

3) November 19, 1887, p. 846, col. 3-4
Hall typewriter (index machine)

4) November 3, 1888, p. 840, col. 1
illustrated ad, Hammond typewriter

5) November 3, 1888, p. 840, col. 2
illustrated ad, World typewriter

6) November 3, 1888, p. 840, col. 3
illustrated ad, Crandall typewriter

7) November 3, 1888, p. 840, col. 3-4
illustrated ad, Remington typewriter

8) November 15, 1890, p. S3, col. 1-2
illustrated ad, Smith Premium Typewriter

9) November 15, 1890, p. S3, col. 1-2
illustrated ad, Needham Type-Writing Cabinet and Office Desk Combined

10) February 22, 1896, p. 188, col. 1-2
illustrated ad, Daugherty Visible typewriter

Sources Consulted

Gu, Charles.  “Typewriter History at a Glance”

O’Shea, John Pace.  “Early Typewriter History,”

Polt, Richard. “A Brief History of Typewriters”

“Special Purpose Office Typewriters.”

“Typewriters—From the Idea to a Standard.” Heinz Nixdorf Museum.

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