CHRISTOPHER LATHAM SHOLES
We live in a time where the typewriter has become a thing of the past. We take it for granted as being a part of the printing industry – making it easier for newsmen to get their stories to press in time – writers to produce great novels – poets to assemble large volumes of poetry. All of this was readable for the most part and the days of handwritten manuscripts hung in the balance. After years of perfecting, making carbon copies, erasing with an actual eraser, using white out, electrifying the machines and eventually turning them into a flat keyboard that could fit on the face of a six inch phone, we’d become accustomed to using our fingers to create words for all the world to see.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Christopher Latham Sholes, whose birthday happens to be today, on Valentine’s Day, 1819. He served as a printer’s apprentice at an early age. When he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1837 and became a newspaper publisher and politician. The earliest typewriter had been invented in the 1700s, but revisions had been made over the years. Sholes and a few friends worked to make the typewriter less bulky and more cost effective to produce. When they connected with E. Remington & Sons, the invention took off and the rest is history.
Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I was never aware that such an invention had actually occurred there, but I knew the typewriter would be a way of life for me in my future. Two years of typing classes guaranteed a secretarial job once I was out of high school. It would be a boon to college life and make my work so much easier. The skill would help me write countless papers, articles, stories and plays throughout my life. I still use all ten of my fingers when I type on my laptop, but find it difficult to maneuver the keyboard on my phone and am often being spell-checked into a different dimension. Using one finger to navigate, just doesn’t cut it for me.
I’m grateful to men like Christopher Latham Sholes, for their entrepreneurial skills – for looking ahead to the future and making it easier for us to communicate with the written word. Inventors like him had no idea the can of worms they were opening, but I’m certainly glad they did.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTOPHER!