Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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The First Typewriter in Ryde

"The Writing Machine"

Isle of Wight Times 20 April 1876

WRITING BY MACHINERY – After sewing machines, the Americans have now brought out a writing machine, and one of these was on view at the establishment of Mr Gelling, ironmonger, of this town, as few days ago. With such a machine, a man may get over two or three letters in the time now occupied in penning one. The work performed, however, partakes more of the nature of printing than writing. On touching different keys in a row a lever is made to raise a letter against an inked ribbon and then on to the paper, where it leaves its impression. As soon as a line is finished the machine moves the paper so as to commence another. Although the machine is not perfection, and its work is far inferior to that of an ordinary printer’s machine, it is calculated to suit the purposes of many, if its figure (25gs) suits their pockets.

Matthew Gelling was an ironmonger trading in Ryde High Street in the 1870s.

The image shows the first commercially successful writing machine. It was the result of intensive research in the United States by Christopher Latham Sholes (1819-1890), Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule, which was financed by James Densmore between 1866 and 1873. After many false starts, they developed what they called the type-writer, complete with the now familiar QWERTY keyboard. The machine began to be produced in quantity by the Remington Company in 1874. Because the type bars strike the paper from below, the writing cannot be seen until the carriage is lifted.