Christopher Latham Sholes
Christopher Latham Sholes
|Member of the Wisconsin Senate |
from the 8th district
January 9, 1856 –January 13, 1858
|Preceded by||Francis Paddock|
|Succeeded by||Samuel R. McClellan|
|Member of the Wisconsin Senate |
from the 16th district
June 5, 1848 –January 9, 1850
|Preceded by||Position Established|
|Succeeded by||Elijah Steele|
|Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly |
from the Kenosha 2nd district
January 12, 1853 –January 11, 1854
|Preceded by||Lathrop Burgess|
|Succeeded by||Jesse Hooker|
|Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly |
from the Kenosha 1st district
January 14, 1852 –January 12, 1853
|Preceded by||Obed Hale|
|Succeeded by||James C. McKisson|
Christopher Latham Sholes
February 14, 1819
Mooresburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||February 17, 1890 71) (aged|
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Resting place|| Forest Home Cemetery |
|Political party|| Republican |
Free Soil (before 1856)
Democratic (before 1852)
|Spouse(s)||Mary Jane McKinney (died 1888)|
Mary Katherine (Tyrrell)
|Mother||Catherine (Cook) Sholes|
|Relatives||Charles Sholes (brother)|
|Occupation||Printer, inventor, legislator|
|Known for||"The Father of the typewriter," inventor of the QWERTY keyboard|
Christopher Latham Sholes(February 14, 1819 – February 17, 1890) was an American inventor who invented the QWERTY keyboard, and along with Samuel W. Soule, Carlos Glidden and John Pratt, has been contended as one of the inventors of the first typewriter in the United States. He was also a newspaper publisher and Wisconsin politician.
Born in Mooresburg, in Montour County, Pennsylvania, Sholes moved to nearby Danville and worked there as an apprentice to a printer. After completing his apprenticeship, Sholes moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1837, and later to Southport, Wisconsin (present-day Kenosha). He became a newspaper publisher and politician, serving in the Wisconsin State Senate from 1848 to 1849 as a Democrat, in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1852 to 1853 as a Free Soiler, and again in the Senate as a Republican from 1856 to 1857.He was instrumental in the successful movement to abolish capital punishment in Wisconsin; his newspaper, The Kenosha Telegraph, reported on the trial of John McCaffary in 1851, and then in 1853 he led the campaign in the Wisconsin State Assembly. He was the younger brother of Charles Sholes (1816–1867), who was also a newspaper publisher and politician who served in both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature and as mayor of Kenosha.
In 1845, Sholes was working as editor of the Southport Telegraph, a small newspaper in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During this time he heard about the alleged discovery of the Voree Record, a set of three minuscule brass plates unearthed by James J. Strang, a would-be successor to Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.Strang asserted that this proved that he was a true prophet of God, and he invited the public to call upon him and see the plates for themselves. Sholes accordingly visited Strang, examined his "Voree Record," and wrote an article about their meeting. He indicated that while he could not accept Strang's plates or his prophetic claims, Strang himself seemed to be "honest and earnest" and his disciples were "among the most honest and intelligent men in the neighborhood." As for the "record" itself, Sholes indicated that he was "content to have no opinion about it."
Typewriters with various keyboards had been invented as early as 1714 by Henry Mill and have been reinvented in various forms throughout the 1800s. It is believed to be Sholes among others, who have invented the first one to be commercially successful, however many contest it and couple his inventions with that of Frank Haven Hall, Samuel W. Soule, Carlos Glidden, Giuseppe Ravizza and in particular John Pratt, whose mention in an 1867 Scientific American article Glidden is known to have shown Sholes.
Sholes had moved to Milwaukee and became the editor of a newspaper. Following a strike by compositors at his printing press, he tried building a machine for typesetting, but this was a failure and he quickly abandoned the idea. He arrived at the typewriter through a different route. His initial goal was to create a machine to number pages of a book, tickets, and so on. He began work on this at Kleinsteubers machine shop in Milwaukee, together with a fellow printer Samuel W. Soule, and they patented a numbering machine on November 13, 1866.
Sholes and Soule showed their machine to Carlos Glidden, a lawyer and amateur inventor at the machine shop working on a mechanical plow, who wondered if the machine could not be made to produce letters and words as well. Further inspiration came in July 1867, when Sholes came across a short note in Scientific Americandescribing the "Pterotype", a prototype typewriter that had been invented by John Pratt. From the description, Sholes decided that the Pterotype was too complex and set out to make his own machine, whose name he got from the article: the typewriting machine, or typewriter.
For this project, Soule was again enlisted, and Glidden joined them as a third partner who provided the funds. The Scientific American article (unillustrated) had figuratively used the phrase "literary piano"; the first model that the trio built had a keyboard literally resembling a piano. It had black keys and white keys, laid out in two rows. It did not contain keys for the numerals 0 or 1 because the letters O and I were deemed sufficient:
3 5 7 9 N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 2 4 6 8 . A B C D E F G H I J K L M
The first row was made of ivory and the second of ebony, the rest of the framework was wooden. Despite the evident prior art by Pratt, it was in this same form that Sholes, Glidden and Soule were granted patents for their invention on June 23, 1868and July 14. The first document to be produced on a typewriter was a contract that Sholes had written, in his capacity as the Comptroller for the city of Milwaukee. Machines similar to Sholes's had been previously used by the blind for embossing, but by Sholes's time the inked ribbon had been invented, which made typewriting in its current form possible.
At this stage, the Sholes-Glidden-Soule typewriter was only one among dozens of similar inventions. They wrote hundreds of letters on their machine to various people, one of whom was James Densmore of Meadville, Pennsylvania. Densmore foresaw that the typewriter would be highly profitable, and offered to buy a share of the patent, without even having laid eyes on the machine. The trio immediately sold him one-fourth of the patent in return for his paying all their expenses so far. When Densmore eventually examined the machine in March 1867, he declared that it was good for nothing in its current form, and urged them to start improving it. Discouraged, Soule and Glidden left the project, leaving Sholes and Densmore in sole possession of the patent.
Realizing that stenographers would be among the first and most important users of the machine, and therefore best in a position to judge its suitability, they sent experimental versions to a few stenographers. The most important of them was James O. Clephane, of Washington D.C., who tried the instruments as no one else had tried them, subjecting them to such unsparing tests that he destroyed them, one after another, as fast as they could be made and sent to him. His judgments were similarly caustic, causing Sholes to lose his patience and temper. But Densmore insisted that this was exactly what they needed:
This candid fault-finding is just what we need. We had better have it now than after we begin manufacturing. Where Clephane points out a weak lever or rod let us make it strong. Where a spacer or an inker works stiffly, let us make it work smoothly. Then, depend upon Clephane for all the praise we deserve.
Sholes took this advice and set to improve the machine at every iteration, until they were satisfied that Clephane had taught them everything he could. By this time, they had manufactured 50 machines or so, at an average cost of $250. They decided to have the machine examined by an expert mechanic, who directed them to E. Remington and Sons (which later became the Remington Arms Company), manufacturers of firearms, sewing machines, and farm tools. In early 1873 they approached Remington, who decided to buy the patent from them. Sholes sold his half for $12,000, while Densmore, still a stronger believer in the machine, insisted on a royalty, which would eventually fetch him $1.5 million.
Sholes returned to Milwaukee and continued to work on new improvements for the typewriter throughout the 1870s, which included the QWERTY keyboard (1873).James Densmore had suggested splitting up commonly used letter combinations in order to solve a jamming problem caused by the slow method of recovering from a keystroke: weights, not springs, returned all parts to the "rest" position. This concept was later refined by Sholes and the resulting QWERTY layout is still used today on both typewriters and English language computer keyboards, although the jamming problem no longer exists.
Sholes died on February 17, 1890 after battling tuberculosis for nine years, and is buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee.
QWERTY is a keyboard design for Latin-script alphabets. The name comes from the order of the first six keys on the top left letter row of the keyboard. The QWERTY design is based on a layout created for the Sholes and Glidden typewriter and sold to E. Remington and Sons in 1873. It became popular with the success of the Remington No. 2 of 1878, and remains in ubiquitous use.
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical machine for writing characters similar to those produced by a printer's movable type. Typically, a typewriter has an array of keys, and each one causes a different single character to be produced on the paper, by means of a ribbon with dried ink struck against the paper by a type element similar to the sorts used in movable type letterpress printing. On some typewriters, a separate type element corresponds to each key; others use a single type element with a different portion of it used for each character. At the end of the nineteenth century, the term typewriter was also applied to a person who used a typing machine.
E. Remington and Sons (1816–1896) was a manufacturer of firearms and typewriters. Founded in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington in Ilion, New York, on March 1, 1873 it became known for manufacturing the first commercial typewriter.
The space bar, spacebar, blank, or space key is a key on a typewriter or alphanumeric keyboard in the form of a horizontal bar in the lowermost row, significantly wider than other keys. Its main purpose is to conveniently enter a space, e.g., between words during typing.
The typographer, America's first typewriter, was invented and made by William Austin Burt. It was a mechanical device that was worked by hand to make the letter print on paper. The working model provided by Burt for his 1829 patent was destroyed in the 1836 Patent Office fire. The main purpose of the device was to speed up secretarial work, although that ultimately was not accomplished.
The Voree plates, also called The Record of Rajah Manchou of Vorito, or the Voree Record, were a set of three tiny metal plates allegedly discovered by Latter Day Saint leader James J. Strang in 1845 in Voree, near Burlington, Wisconsin. Purportedly the final testament of an ancient American ruler named "Rajah Manchou of Vorito", Strang asserted that this discovery vindicated his claims to be the true successor of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement—as opposed to Brigham Young, whom most Latter Day Saints accepted as Smith's successor in 1844. The plates also lent credence to his claim that Voree, not the Salt Lake Valley, was to be the new "gathering place" of the Latter Day Saints. Strang's purported translation of this text is accepted as scripture by his church and some other bodies descending from it, but not by any other Latter Day Saint organization.
The Blickensderfer Typewriter was invented by George Canfield Blickensderfer (1850–1917) and patented on August 4, 1891. Two models were initially unveiled to the public at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the Model 1 and the Model 5. His machines were originally intended to compete with larger Remington, Hammond and Yost typewriters, and were the first truly portable, full-keyboard typewriters. The design also enabled the typist to see the typed work at a time when most typewriters were understrike machines that concealed the writing. When Blickensderfer unveiled his small Model 5 at the 1893 World's Fair, a stripped-down version of his larger more complex Model 1 machine, these revolutionary features attracted huge crowds and a full order book – many of them from Britain, Germany and France, whose business machine markets were more highly developed than the United States.
Samuel Willard Soulé, along with Christopher Sholes, and Carlos Gliddin, was the inventor of the first practical typewriter at a machine shop located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1869.
Carlos Glidden, along with Christopher Sholes, Frank Haven Hall, and Samuel W. Soule, invented the first practical typewriter at a machine shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He kept on improving the typewriter until he died.
James Densmore was an American businessman, inventor and vegetarian. He was a business associate of Christopher Sholes, who along with Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule helped contribute to inventing one of the first practical typewriters at a machine shop located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Giuseppe Ravizza, a prolific typewriter inventor, was born in Novara, Italy in 1811, and spent nearly 40 years of his life obsessively grappling with the complexities of inventing a usable writing machine. He called his invention Cembalo scrivano o macchina da scrivere a tasti because of its piano-type keys and keyboard. The story of the 16 models he produced between 1847 and the early 1880s is described in The Writing Machine and illustrated from Ravizza’s 1855 patent, which bears similarities to the later upstroke design of the Sholes and Glidden typewriter.
Lucien Stephen Crandall was an American inventor of typewriters, adding machines and electrical devices. Crandall gave his name to several typewriters, and he was also involved in the development of various machines, such as the project to produce the Hammond design at the Remington factory, or later the International typewriter.
James Ogilvie Clephane was an American court reporter and venture capitalist who was involved in improving, promoting and supporting several inventions of his age, including the typewriter, the graphophone, and the linotype machine. He has been called the "father of the linotype machine", and the development of mechanical typesetting was largely due to his initiative.
The printing telegraph was invented by Royal Earl House in 1846. House's equipment could transmit around 40 instantly readable words per minute, but was difficult to manufacture in bulk. The printer could copy and print out up to 2,000 words per hour. This invention was first put in operation and exhibited at the Mechanics Institute in New York in 1844.
The Sholes and Glidden typewriter was the first commercially successful typewriter. Principally designed by the American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes, it was developed with the assistance of fellow printer Samuel W. Soule and amateur mechanic Carlos S. Glidden. Work began in 1867, but Soule left the enterprise shortly thereafter, replaced by James Densmore, who provided financial backing and the driving force behind the machine's continued development. After several short-lived attempts to manufacture the device, the machine was acquired by E. Remington and Sons in early 1873. An arms manufacturer seeking to diversify, Remington further refined the typewriter before finally placing it on the market on July 1, 1874.
Charles Clark Sholes was a Wisconsin politician and newspaperman. He was the 8th Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly and 2nd Mayor of Kenosha, Wisconsin. He also served in the Wisconsin State Senate. His younger brother was Christopher Latham Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter.
The 16th District of the Wisconsin Senate is located in south-central Wisconsin, and is currently composed of parts of Columbia, and Dane counties. The district contains part of Madison, the capital city.
Frank Haven Hall was an American inventor and essayist who is credited with inventing the Hall braille writer and the stereographer machine. He also invented the first successful mechanical point writer and developed major functions of modern day typography with kerning and tracking.
Obed Pease Hale (1809–1892) was an American farmer from Paris, Wisconsin who spent a single one-year term as a Free Soil Party member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, having been elected to represent the newly created Kenosha County. He was succeeded by Christopher Latham Sholes, also a Free Soiler.
Lenore Fenton MacClain was a championship typist and typewriting educator. She won numerous international typewriting awards and international records in typing.