By Joe Cushnan
On 20 November, 2012, the manufacturer Brother claimed to have built the UK’s last typewriter in its North Wales factory.
Since 1985, when the Wrexham operation opened, the site had produced nearly six million typewriters but demand in the UK and Ireland was declining sharply, although there were still healthy markets for the machines in other parts of the world including the USA and the Far East.
As far back as the 16th Century, a number of inventors experimented with “impressing letters onto a page” using all manner of contraptions in their bids to come up with something that would benefit communications and printing.
The first patent for “a machine for transcribing letters” was issued to Henry Mill, an English engineer, in 1714.
The first claim for a practical typewriter as we would recognize it today came from four American inventors working together, including Christopher Sholes who designed the familiar QWERTY keyboard layout.
It was the first typewriter proven to be faster than handwriting.
There is a plaque in Wisconsin to record that “at 318 State Street, C. Latham Sholes perfected the first practical typewriter in September 1869. Here he worked with Carlos Glidden, Samuel W. Soule and Matthias Schwalbach in the machine shop of C. F. Kleinsteuber.
During the next six years, money for the further development of the typewriter was advanced by James Densmore who later gained the controlling interest and sold it to E. Remington and Sons of Ilion, New York.”
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