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The Day in History:

Christopher Latham Sholes Granted Typewriter Patent (1868)

sholes
Christopher Latham Sholes (February 14, 1819 - February 17, 1890) was an American inventor who invented the first practical typewriter and the QWERTY keyboard still in use today.

YouthBorn in Mooresburg, Pennsylvania, Sholes moved to nearby Danville as a teenager, where he worked as an apprentice to a printer. After completing his apprenticeship, Sholes moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He became a newspaper publisher and politician, serving in the Wisconsin State Senate, and the Wisconsin State Assembly.

The "Voree plates"In 1845, Sholes was working as editor of the Southport Telegraph, a small newspaper in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During this time he heard about the alleged discovery of the Voree Record, a set of three minuscule brass plates unearthed by James J. Strang, a would-be successor to the murdered Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Jr.. Strang asserted that this proved that he was a true prophet of God, and he invited the public to call upon him and see the plates for themselves. Sholes accordingly visited Strang, examined his "Voree Record," and wrote an article about their meeting. He indicated that while he could not accept Strang's plates or his prophetic claims, Strang himself seemed to be "honest and earnest" and his disciples were "among the most honest and intelligent men in the neighborhood." As for the "record" itself, Sholes indicated that he was "content to have no opinion about it."

Inventing the typewriter

Wisconsin Historical MarkerThe idea for Sholes' typewriter began at Kleinsteubers machine shop in Milwaukee, where he perfected a prototype in 1867. Together with Samuel W. Soule and Carlos Glidden, Sholes was granted a patent for his invention on June 23, 1868. His version of the typewriter was based on a page-numbering machine he had received a patent for in 1864. Sholes sold the rights to his typewriter to the Remington Arms Company in 1872 for $12,000.

He continued to work on new developments for the typewriter throughout the 1860s, which included the QWERTY keyboard (1873). James Densmore, a business associate, had suggested splitting up commonly used letter combinations in order to solve a jamming problem. This concept was later refined by Sholes and is still used today on both typewriters and computers.

Sholes is buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee.

Sholes' invention is still in use today, as his QWERTY keyboard is featured exclusively on English language computer keyboards from all major manufacturers.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com


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