Underwood Typewriter Company

Last updated
Underwood Typewriter Company
Private company
IndustryBusiness machines
Founded1895
FounderJohn T. Underwood
DefunctAcquired by Olivetti (1959) [1]
Headquarters,
United States
Key people
Franz X. Wagner,
"Front strike" Inventor
John T. Underwood,
Namesake/founder
Products Typewriters

The Underwood Typewriter Company was a manufacturer of typewriters headquartered in New York City, New York. Underwood produced what is considered the first widely successful, modern typewriter. [2] By 1939, Underwood had produced five million machines. [3]

Contents

History

Underwood Typewriter factory in Hartford, CT, circa 1911-1912. Underwood Typewriter factory 1911.png
Underwood Typewriter factory in Hartford, CT, circa 1911-1912.
Woman with an Underwood typewriter, c. 1918 Woman with Underwood typewriter.jpg
Woman with an Underwood typewriter, c. 1918

From 1874, the Underwood family made typewriter ribbon and carbon paper, and were among a number of firms who produced these goods for Remington. When Remington decided to start producing ribbons themselves, the Underwoods opted to manufacture typewriters. [2]

The original Underwood typewriter was invented by German-American Franz Xaver Wagner, who showed it to entrepreneur John Thomas Underwood. Underwood supported Wagner and bought the company, recognising the importance of the machine. Underwood No. 1 and No. 2s, made between 1896 and 1900, had "Wagner Typewriter Co." printed on the back. [2]

The Underwood No. 5 launched in 1900 has been described as "the first truly modern typewriter". Two million had been sold by the early 1920s, and its sales “were equal in quantity to all of the other firms in the typewriter industry combined”. [4] When the company was in its heyday as the world's largest typewriter manufacturer, its factory at Hartford, Connecticut was turning out typewriters at the rate of one each minute.

Underwood started adding addition and subtraction devices to their typewriters in about 1910.

Philip Dakin Wagoner was appointed president of the Elliott-Fisher Company after World War I (1914-1918). Elliott-Fisher became the parent of the Underwood Typewriter Company and the Sundstrand Adding Machine Co. In 1927 Wagoner reorganized the company into Underwood-Elliott-Fisher, which later became the Underwood Corporation. [5] The reorganization was completed in December 1927. [6] John Thomas Underwood was elected chairman and Wagoner president of Underwood Elliott-Fisher. [7]

In the years before World War II, Underwood built the world's largest typewriter in an attempt to promote itself. The typewriter was on display at Garden Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey for several years and attracted large crowds. Often, Underwood would have a young woman sitting on each of the large keys. The enormous typewriter was scrapped for metal when the war started. [8]

During World War II, Underwood produced M1 carbines. Approximately 540,000 M1 carbines were produced from late 1942 to May of 1944. Underwood also produced M1 carbine barrels for the US Government. Under the Free Issue Barrel Program, barrels were sent to other prime manufacturers who did not possess the machines to make barrels. It is thought that they made about 1 million barrels from late 1942 to late 1944. During the post-war period they were one of two civilian companies who were awarded a contract to refurbish M1 carbines. They were first to produce stamped and brazed parts by producing trigger housings and front sights reducing time and machines for complex work during milling operations.

In 1945 Wagoner was elected chairman of the board of Underwood, and Leon C. Stowell was elected president. Wagoner remained chief executive. [9] Olivetti bought a controlling interest in Underwood in 1959, and completed the merger in October 1963, becoming known in the US as Olivetti-Underwood with headquarters in New York City, and entering the electromechanical calculator business. The Underwood name last appeared on Olivetti portable typewriters produced in Spain in the 80s.[ citation needed ]

Underwood Typewriter Company, ca. 1915 Exterior Underwood Typewriter Company.jpg
Underwood Typewriter Company, ca. 1915
Underwood typewriter before 1939, imported to Poland Underwood typewriter Poland before 1939.jpg
Underwood typewriter before 1939, imported to Poland

Related Research Articles

Jack Kerouac American writer

Jean-Louis "Jack" Kerouac (;) was an American novelist and poet of French-Canadian ancestry.

Typewriter machine for writing in characters

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.

Beatnik media stereotype based on characteristics of the Beat Generation

Beatnik was a media stereotype prevalent throughout the late 1940s, 1950s to mid-1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s. Elements of the beatnik trope included pseudo-intellectualism, drug use, and a cartoonish depiction of real-life people along with the spiritual quest of Jack Kerouac's autobiographical fiction.

Jack Tramiel American businessman

Jack Tramiel was a Polish American businessman, best known for founding Commodore International. The Commodore PET, Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore 64 are some home computers produced while he was running the company. Tramiel later formed Atari Corporation after he purchased the remnants of the original Atari, Inc. from its parent company.

M1 carbine semi-automatic rifle

The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use, .30 carbine semi-automatic carbine that was a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and well into the Vietnam War. The M1 carbine was produced in several variants and was widely used by not only the U.S. military, but by paramilitary and police forces around the world. It has also been a popular civilian firearm.

E. Remington and Sons manufacturer of firearms and typewriters

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.

Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistol

The Mauser C96 is a semi-automatic pistol that was originally produced by German arms manufacturer Mauser from 1896 to 1937. Unlicensed copies of the gun were also manufactured in Spain and China in the first half of the 20th century.

Olivetti company

Olivetti S.p.A. is an Italian manufacturer of computers, tablets, smartphones, printers and other such business products as calculators and fax machines. Headquartered in Ivrea, in the Metropolitan City of Turin, the company has been part of the Telecom Italia Group since 2003. One of the first commercial programmable desktop calculators, the Programma 101, was produced by Olivetti in 1964 and was a commercial success.

Olivetti Lettera 22 italian design typewriter model

The Olivetti Lettera 22[oliˈvetti ˈlɛttera ventiˈdue] is a portable mechanical typewriter designed by Marcello Nizzoli in 1949 or, according to the company's current owner Telecom Italia, 1950. This typewriter was very popular in Italy, and it still has many fans. It was awarded the Compasso d'oro prize in 1954. In 1959 the Illinois Institute of Technology chose the Lettera 22 as the best design product of the last 100 years.

Blickensderfer typewriter typewriter

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.

The Royal Typewriter Company was a manufacturer of typewriters headquartered in New York City with its factory in Hartford, Connecticut.

Adriano Olivetti Italian businessman

Adriano Olivetti was an Italian engineer, politician and industrialist whose entrepreneurial activity thrived on the idea that profit should be reinvested for the benefits of the whole society. He was son of the founder of Olivetti, Camillo Olivetti, and Luisa Revel, the daughter of a prominent Waldensian pastor and scholar. Adriano Olivetti was known worldwide during his lifetime as the Italian manufacturer of Olivetti typewriters, calculators, and computers.

Smith Corona is an American manufacturer of thermal labels, direct thermal labels, and thermal ribbons used in warehouses for primarily barcode labels. Once a large U.S. typewriter and mechanical calculator manufacturer, it expanded aggressively during the 1960s to become a broad-based industrial conglomerate whose products extended to paints, foods, and paper. The mechanical calculator sector was wiped out in the early 1970s by the production of cheap electronic calculators, and the typewriter business collapsed in the mid-1980s due to the introduction of PC-based word processing.

Rock-Ola

The Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation was founded in 1927 by Coin-Op pioneer David Cullen Rockola to manufacture slot machines, scales and pinball machines. The firm later produced parking meters, furniture, and firearms, but became best known for its jukeboxes.

FB "Łucznik" Radom

Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" - Radom, also known as Fabryka Broni Radom or Zakłady Metalowe "Łucznik," is a Polish defence industry enterprise from Radom that produces firearms. The enterprise is a part of Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa SA.

The Oliver Typewriter Company was an American typewriter manufacturer headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The Oliver Typewriter was one of the first "visible print" typewriters, meaning text was visible to the typist as it was entered. Oliver typewriters were marketed heavily for home use, using local distributors and sales on credit. Oliver produced more than one million machines between 1895 and 1928 and licensed its designs to several international firms.

The Olivetti-Underwood Factory was designed by renowned architect Louis Kahn. Olivetti, an Italian company, commissioned Kahn in 1966 to design the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania building for the manufacture of their Underwood line of typewriters and related products. It was completed in 1970.

Philip Dakin Wagoner was an American businessman who became chairman of the Underwood Typewriter Company.

Underwood Computing Machine Company Factory United States historic place

The Underwood Computing Machine Company Factory is a historic industrial complex at 56 Arbor Street in the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut. Developed beginning in 1917 by the Underwood Typewriter Company, it was used by that company and its successors for manufacturing, research, and development until 1969. It presently houses the artistic collaborative Real Art Ways and other organizations. The complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Hermes 3000 Make of typewriter

The Hermes 3000 was a lightweight, segment-shifted portable typewriter manufactured by Paillard-Bolex. "Bulbous" and "angular" in shape, it came with a fitted, hard-shell removable cover. The machines were built in Yverdon, Switzerland, by Paillard S.A.

References

  1. "John Wolff's Web Museum – Olivetti Mechanical Calculators".
  2. 1 2 3 "Antique Typewriters – Underwood 1".
  3. Depauw, Karen (November 10, 2014). "Typing History". WNPR.
  4. George Nichols Engler (1969). The Typewriter Industry: The Impact of a Significant Technological Revolution (PhD dissertation). University of California at Los Angeles. p. 30.
  5. "West Mountain Historic District". National Park Service. 27 January 1984. p. 13. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  6. "Time, monday, Dec. 05, 1927". TIME.com. 5 December 1927.
  7. Alford, Leon Pratt (1928). Manufacturing Industries. Ahrens Publishing Company. p. 159. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  8. McLain, Bill. What Makes Flamingo's Pink. New York, New York, 2001.
  9. http://www.schmuckswithunderwoods.com/
  10. "The Beat Museum on Wheels".
  11. Ravier, Matt (12 February 2009). "Review: Mary and Max (2009)". In Film Australia. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2010.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Underwood Typewriter Company at Wikimedia Commons