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Type-Writer: two words, hyphenated

The Type-Writer

The first practical writing machine was the Sholes & Glidden, invented in 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule (the machine was first sold in 1874). It was they who also gave us the QWERTY keyboard and the word typewriter.1

Initially, “typewriter” was two words, hyphenated, though often not. In time, the compound form would become standard, but for the first few decades, it was two.

This site celebrates the hyphen…


Patent image from 1868, for the “Type-Writer” — two words, hyphenated.

St Joseph Herald - Saint Joseph, Michigan - Nov 21, 1868

One of the earliest advertisements featuring “Type Writer,” as two words (no hyphen), from the St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan), Nov. 21, 1868. Note that even before the commercial release of the Sholes & Glidden, the mechanical writing machine was known as the “type writer.” Also, I believe the machine pictured is an experimental Sholes & Glidden typewriter, though others had previously invented writing machines using piano keys.

The Sun - New York, New York - Dec 16, 1875

An early Sholes & Glidden, manufactured now by Remington. This is the Standard No. 1, an all-caps typewriter. From The Sun (New York, New York), Dec. 16, 1875. (Note: The words on the typed page read: There is a tide in the affairs of men,/ Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune,” quoted from Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.)

Harrisburg Telegraph - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania -  Jan 25, 1876

Boasting 60 to 100 words per minute. From the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Jan. 25, 1876

The Inter Ocean - Chicago, Illinois - Feb 5, 1881

Better than a “pen-writer”! From the Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), Feb. 5, 1881.

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette - Fort Wayne, Indiana - Jan 22, 1882

Dark image, but it appears to be a Standard No. 2. From the Fort Wayne Daily Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana), Jan. 22, 1882.

The Times - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - May 20, 1882

By 1882, the type-writer is “old reliable.” This ad introduces the Standard No. 2, allowing upper and lower case typing. From The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), May 20, 1882.

The Times-Picayune - New Orleans, Louisiana - Jan 1, 1885

From The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), Jan. 1, 1885.

The Wilmington Messenger - Wilmington, North Carolina - Mar 1, 1890

Soon, other companies were marketing type-writers. This Victor features typewriter as two words, though the advertisement employs the hyphen. The Wilmington Messenger (Wilmington, North Carolina), March 1, 1890.

© 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. Actually, Sholes principally conceived and developed the QWERTY keyboard layout. []
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Bill M March 21, 2014, 11:07 pm

    Great hyphenated word started it all. A world of wonerful machines!

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