Typewriters and Typewriting.

History | General Information | Typing Instruction | Typewriters by Brand

Woodstock typewriter keyboard

Richard Polt’s collection of typewriter manuals is probably the most complete on the Internet.

☛Find the date of a typewriter by its serial number, and plenty of pictures of typewriters, at the Typewriter Database.


Letter from William Lloyd Garrison to Wendell Phillips Garrison, December 11, 1877, written on a Sholes and Glidden all-caps typewriter, describing his experience with the machine. —“I am experimenting with a little machine, called the type-writer, which you may have seen… Of course, it must be slow work at first; and the question is whether by practice I shall find it easier and more expeditious to print than to write with pen and ink.”

The Typewriter; Its Growth and Uses.” By P. G. Hubert, Jr. From the North American Review, June 1, 1888.

The History of Touch Typewriting. Compliments of Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict, New York, 1900.

The Story of the Typewriter, 1873–1923. Published in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the invention of the writing machine by the Herkimer County Historical Society, Herkimer, New York, 1923.

Henry W. Roby’s Story of the Invention of the Typewriter. Edited, with historical introduction, by Milo M. Quaife. Menasha (Wisconsin): George Banta Publishing Company, [1925].

The Typewriter: A short history, on its 75th anniversary, 1873–1948. By John A. Zellers, Member of the Newcomen Society; vice-president, Remington Rand Inc. New York: The Newcomen Society of England, American Branch, 1948.

The Story of the Typewriter from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. By Rupert T. Gould. London: Office Control and Management, 1949.

A Brief History of the Typewriter. Remington Rand, about 1957. —A 12-page illustrated booklet.

Mr. Typewriter. A biography of Christopher Latham Sholes by Arthur Toye Foulke. Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1961.

General Information.

Mechanical Devices of the Typerwriter. A handbook dealing with the use and adjustment of the various typewriter devices.

Typewriter Type Faces. By Alan Bartram. In Typographica 6, 1962. —Hundreds of samples from all brands.

Typing Instruction.

Hand-Book of Instruction for the Type-Writer, containing inductive exercises, arranged with a typical guide to the correct use of the fingers. By Edward F. Underhill, stenographer. New York: Evelyn T. Underhill, 1880.

Type-Writer Lessons, for the use of teachers and learners, adapted to Remington’s perfected type-writers. My Mrs. M. V. Longley. Cincinnati, 1882.

Haven’s Complete Manual of Type Writing. A self-instructor for the home student; a book of reference for the expert; a guide to the teacher; and a text-book for all schools and colleges. By Curtis Haven. Philadelphia: Published by the Author, 1884.

Humphrey’s Manual of TypeWriting, Business Letter-Writer, and Exercises for Phonographic Practice. A guide to the art of type-writing for use in schools, colleges and copying offices. By F. S. Humphrey. Poughkeepsie (New York): Haight & Dudley, 1887.

A Manual of the Type-Writer. By John Harrison. London: Isaac Pitman & Sons; Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict; 1888.

Parkyn’s Commercial Handbook of Typewriting. A practical guide to secretarial work in general with thirty exercises carefully graduated, embodying the most perfect and elegant system of fingering. By Walter A. Parkyn. Second edition. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1891.

The National Typewriter Instructor, by the Eight-Finger Method. By Elias Longley. New York: Typewriter Headquarters, 1891. —Includes “suggestions as to a scientific keyboard,” but then assumes QWERTY.

The Yost Typewriter Instructor, by the Eight-Finger Method. By Elias Longley. New York: Typewriter Headquarters, 1891. —Similar to the above, but adapted to the full-keyboard Yost, which has separate keys for capitals.

Practical Typewriting: by the all-finger method, which leads to operation by touch. Arranged for self-instruction and school use. Third edition. By Bates Torrey. New York: Fowler & Wells Co., 1894.

Typists’ Guide: From Sight to Touch. New York: Compliments of Underwood Typewriter Company, 1912.

“When touch typewriting was first introduced a few years ago it naturally appealed to the imagination but many thought it would be so difficult that only the specially gifted student would be able to master it, and that the average student would have to plod along in the old fashion. As a result, many otherwise progressive schools held aloof, and continued teaching in the old way, waiting for the fad to die out. But the ‘fad’ became a fact and the touch system is now generally taught in all the schools, and each year thousands of touch operators enter business offices where the ease with which they do their work makes them the envy of typists who have to struggle along by sight. Under such circumstances the sight operator becomes imbued with a desire to change to the touch system. The design of this booklet is to guide such operators so that they may make the change from sight to touch without wasting their time on useless experiments, or allowing their efforts in this direction to interfere with their daily work.”

Extracts from the Style Book of the Government Printing Office designed for the use of typewriter operators engaged in preparing manuscript for publication. Compiled by George McLane Wood, editor. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1915. —The “special directions” on the first two pages are still very good procedures for anyone who drafts with a typewriter.

Rational Typewriting. Revised edition. By Rupert P. SoRelle and Ida McLenan Cutler. Completely rewritten and re-arranged for a complete course by Rupert P. SoRelle. New York (etc.): The Gregg Publishing Company, 1917.

What Every Typist Should Know. 1934. —A free booklet from Remington promoting Noiseless typewriters, but generally applicable.

My Typewriter and I. By Nellie Louise Marrick and Robert Frederick Bown, in collaboration with August Dvorak. New York (etc.): American Book Company, 1937. —The Dvorak keyboard is relegated to an extensive appendix.

“The appearance of My Typewriter and I marks the beginning of a wholly new chapter in the methodology of teaching typewriting. While the present manual is designed for the junior high school pupil, its undei lying piinciples and clearly evident method are no less applicable to the elementary curriculum in typewriting. Based upon the Universal keyboard and effectively adapted to the unique and psychologically sound Dvorak-Dealey Simplified typewriter keyboard, the manual is lucidly self-directive with continuous motivation, carefully graded stages of learning, and an evolving integration of several subject-matter fields of the junior high school with the specific learning situations in typing. Eschewing content exclusively commercial, the manual employs meaningful material in itself educationally valuable, and thus associates a wide range of knowledge with its application before the typewriter. The pupil by means of such integration not only learns typing but acquires a fund of knowledge, fundamental and broadly cultural.” —This is what educators’ jargon sounded like in 1937.

Artyping. By Julius Nelson, Instructor, Secretarial Science, Windber High School, Windber, Pennsylvania. New York (etc.): The Gregg Publishing Company, [1940]. —“A phase of typewriting which, until recently, has been more or less in the background is artistic, or ornamental typewriting. For those who are in the dark as to what artistic typewriting means, I shall try to define it by saying that it may mean anything from simple cover designs to the most elaborate scenes or portraits.” The collection of ornamental borders is simply amazing.

Artyping, second edition. By Julius Nelson, Specialist in Typewriting Education. Baltimore: Educational Publication Division of Artistic Typing Headquarters, 1962. —A smaller book, with almost completely different content.

Easier typing. Conserve your energy—Conserve your time—Conserve your typewriter. This pamphlet suggests how you can do your typing easier, quicker, and better. Use as a desk reference. U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1943. —All sorts of clever typing tricks illustrated with photographs of a Royal KMM.

Typing to Speed Victory. 1943. —Published by International Business Machines, and illustrated with photographs of IBM typewriters, but applicable to any typing. “If ever there was a time when the typing speed and accuracy of every stenographer and typist counts most for the success of our great wartime effort, it is NOW—when the quantity and quality of your output helps those dependent upon receiving correct, detailed information and prompt instructions to get work done.”

Typrinting. By Julius Nelson, B.S., M.A., Instructor, Secretarial Science, Samuel Ready School, Baltimore, Maryland. 1945.

25 Typing Short Cuts. Remington Rand, 1948. —Illustrated with Remington Rand typewriters, but universally applicable.

Stylebook for Typists. By Julius Nelson. New York (etc.): The Gregg Publishing Company, 1949. —Every kind of work that might be produced on a typewriter is covered, from business letters to high-school yearbooks.

Fun with Your Typewriter. Commercial art typing. A completely functional book, with easy-to-follow typing instructions. By Madge Roemer. The Falcon’s Wing Press, 1956. “Turn your typewriter into a combination printing press and cartooning machine—it’s so easy!”

The Seven Keys to Better Faster Typing, United States Civil Service Commission, 1962.

Modern Typing: An Australian Basic Course. Fielding, Lloyd, Rowe, and Winger. Sydney (etc.): McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1967.

Well Typed, Miss Jones!. A handbook for writers and typists. State Services Commission, New Zealand, 1974. —“This book is a style book for typed correspondence.” Includes some typed supplemental matter in the front.

Typewriters by Brand.


Complete Caligraph Instructor, or How to Become an Expert in Typewriting. By Mrs. Arthur J. Barnes. St. Louis: Arthur J. Barnes, 1890.


☛Acquired by Remington in 1924; see Remington and Underwood, for whom Remington made Noiseless portables under contract.

The Noiseless Typewriter. No date; before 1924.

“And silence, like a poultice, comes
     To heal the blows of sound.”


Your Final Typewriter. A booklet advertising the Oliver. 1907.

Oliver Instruction Book. 1907. —Illustrated with photographs.

A Good Method of Fingering the Oliver Keyboard. 1911. —A single card with the keys numbered to show which finger goes with which key. This is largely a six-finger method, with the little finger used only on the left hand for the two shift keys.


Service Instructions for the Remington ‘Blind’ Typewriter. —Reprinted without title page by Office Machine Americana; the first diagram inside is labeled “1892.”

Remington Typewriter Furnture. Probably 1890s. —A catalogue of desks, tables, chairs, and so on that can be used with Remington typewriters. It is interesting to note that the most elaborate and luxurious roll-top desk with drop-down typewriter cabinet is less than half the price of the typewriter itself.

Directions for Using the Remington Standard Typewriter Models Nos. 6 and 7. 1906. —These are still blind writers, and the advantages of visible writers, if they were not obvious before, become obvious on reading these instructions.

An Easy Guide for Operating the Remington Portable Typewriter. 1927.

What Every Typist Should Know. 1934. —A free booklet from Remington promoting Noiseless typewriters, but generally applicable.

Astrological Keyboard. Special Writing Applications by Remington. 1935. —A two-page brochure advertising the special keyboard for astrologers available on many Remington models at a cost of $25 extra.


Instructions for the Care and Use of the Royal Typewriter Model 10. No date. —Also includes instructions for unpacking and “You Might Just as Well Save This Money for Yourself,” a folder of maintenance tips.

The Royal Portable Typewriter. Directions for its use and care. 1926.

Royal Amerykańska Maszyna do Pisania. Warsaw; undated, possibly 1920s. Good pictures.

Can a Typewriter Help Your Child to Think?. 1940. The answer is yes, and it would be best if it were a Royal typewriter.

Repair and Maintenance.

Royal Typewriter Maintenance and Repair. Departments of the Army and the Air Force, January 1955. Technical Manual TM-10-602 (Technical Order TO 25-5-34).


☛Including the Corona and L. C. Smith brands.

How to Use Corona, the Personal Writing Machine. Groton (New York): Corona Typewriter Co., 1920.

Corona Luggage for Corona Travelers. 1924. —A catalogue of carrying cases, etc.

L C Smith, the Ball Bearing Office Machine. London, 1925.

Four Bank Portable Keyboards. By L C Smith & Corona Typewriters Inc. [No date.] —Includes samples of all available type faces.

Congratulations—You Now Own the World’s Finest Portable Typewriter. —No date, but about 1949; the first plastic-keyed models. It would be hard to argue with the claim. All user manuals should be this engaging: “There is a right way to do most things including Coronatyping. We would like to say, just throw a sheet into the machine and type away. But we don’t think that would be fair to you. We know that in the long run you will get the full value from your Smith-Corona by knowing the why and wherefore of all the features and operational conveniences.”

Smith Premier.

The Van Sant System of Touch Typewriting for Smith Premier. Rochester (New York): Commercial Correspondence Schools, 1902.


Order of Accurate Typists. In which also is included “As It Was in the Beginning,” the matter written by J. N. Kimball for the International Typing Contests, held at the Annual Business Show in New York, October 25th 1915. New York: Compliments of Underwood Typewriter Company, 1915.

How to Use the Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter. 1919. —This is the original three-bank portable Underwood.

Underwood Typewriter Maintenance and Repair. Department of the Army Technical Manual TM-10-601, 1955.