Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party

I have been using the word “machine” in this connection, because it was the only name by which it was designated at that time. The adoption of a suitable name, however, was being discussed at this time by Mr. Sholes and his associates. “Printing machine” was first suggested, but the name did not meet with favor as describing the work it was designed to accomplish. “Writing machine” was also suggested, but as the work would be in printed letters the word “writing” seemed inapplicable. At length Mr. Sholes suggested the name “typewriter.” This was subject to the same objection, and there was some discussion as to whether the name “printing machine’* was not a better name after all, but “typewriter” was an unusual name and had a unique sound, and so it was finally adopted, and then for the first time was heard a name, sounding oddly enough at that time, but which has now become so common throughout the civilized world that we wonder that any other name was thought of.

Our interest in the work became more and more absorbing as it progressed, and the various parts completed and assembled. The keys were of black walnut, about three inches long and a quarter of an inch wide, with the letter of the alphabet to which it was attached painted in white on each key while between each key was a space sufficient to insert shorter keys similar to the black keys of the piano, which were used for the figures and punctuation marks. The figures ran from 2 to 9, the letter “I” being used for the first figure and “O” was used for the cypher. Added to these were the semi-colon, the dollar mark, the hyphen, the period, the comma and interrogation point, and a diagonal stroke which was used for the parenthesis. The keys being attached to the type bars and working in unison with the carriage movement enabled us for the first time to test the work of printing words and sentences. We were then in the midst of an exciting political campaign, and it was then for the first time that the well known sentence was inaugurated, — “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party;” also the opening sentence of the Declaration of Independence, “When in the course of human events,” etc., which sentences were repeated many times in order to test the speed of the machine.

Charles E. Weller, “The early history of the typewriter“, 1918

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mattedgar

Product strategy and design leadership in web and mobile media. Before that I was a newspaper journalist and history student

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