Tag Archive for William Austin Burt

Typewriter Day

That QWERTY keyboard's looking pretty good now, right?

Today in 1829, a device called the “Typographer” was patented by William Austin Burt, an inventor and surveyor. His typing machine was an ancestor of the typewriter as we know it today.

Touch-typing was a long way off from Burt’s machine, which involved turning a crank attached to a wheel inside a large wooden box until the desired letter lined up, then pulling levers to imprint the letter on the paper. No worries about carpal tunnel with this machine; in fact, it would have been better than Tae-Bo for building those muscles after cranking and yanking all day. (Yes, we hear your snickering.)

Printing with the typographer was apparently slower than writing by hand, but since when has complicated processes ever stopped a geek when the end product was so cool? Still, Burt’s typing device was never commercially reproduced, but it was a vital first step in the evolution of typewriters and keyboards. If the typographer had been a runaway success, we would all likely be Tweeting on something resembling a Salad Shooter.


Image: Wikipedia