T Y P E T O T O U CH
WELCOME This is the story of how we got from type to touch. A history in the evolution of communication, as we go from typewriters to personal computers. Discover the key players that dominated the â€˜rise of technologyâ€™ era, and follow the highs and lows of technological advancements and the origins to Steve Jobs empire.
THE TYPOGRAPHER The first known typewriter was invented in the United States of America by William Burt in 1829. This was called a typographer and printed one single letter after another on a rotating frame. However Burtâ€™s machine, and many of those that followed it, were cumbersome, hard to use, unreliable and often took longer to produce a letter than writing it by hand.
Q W E R T Y
QWERTY IS BORN QWERTY refers to the most common form of layout of letters found on the keyboard of a typewriter or computer. The name refers to the first six letters at the top of the board. The initial idea and later development of this design came from one of the first pioneers of the typewriter, Christopher Latham Sholes, who invented the first commercially successful machine. The original layout of letters was in an ABC format, but Sholes found this continually jammed his typewriters. To solve the problem, he asked his brother-in-law, a mathematician, to work out an arrangement that would for most of the time prevents the bars from clashing.
WE HAVE A DEAL In 1873 Christopher Latham Sholes sold his patent typewriter rights for $12,000 to the Remington Arms Company, a firm well equipped with machinery and skill to carry out the development work that resulted in the machine being marketed as the Remington Typewriter. The first machine produced wrote in capitals and was heavily influenced by the workings and appearance of a sewing machine, which was also produced by Remington.
BELLISSIMO DESIGN Founded in Italy, Olivetti produced typewriters renowned for their modern designs. Camillo Olivetti once said that “a typewriter must not be a showpiece for the salon, overloaded with tastelessness. It must look sober, and at the same time work elegantly.” Marcello Nizzoli’s creation of the iconic ‘Lettera 22’ typewriter (1950) was a compact and portable pup in a world full of elephants, introducing the idea that one wasn’t tethered to the desk all day. It eventually won the Compasso d’Oro prize in 1954.
THE GOLFBALL Introduced in 1961, The IBM Selectric reinvented the typewriter by introducing the type ball, a spherical metal object (often referred to as ‘golf balls’ due to their physical size) mounted inside of the machine that would rotate and pivot with each keystroke before slamming into a ribbon that inked the page. The type ball replaced a series of individual type bars, known collectively as the basket that made maintenance difficult and limited speed; if you typed too fast, the bars would jam together. As word of the Selectric’s superiority spread, sales of this line of typewriters accelerated until they eventually captured 75 per cent of the U.S. market.
INFORMATION REVOLUTION The 1970s were a time of transition for typewriters and word processors with the introduction of home computers. For many, the uptake of home computers was not driven by users’ needs or a computers functionality, as the early machines could actually do relatively little. The appeal to the consumer was the idea of becoming part of the ‘Information Revolution’. In 1975 The Altair 8800 was sold to enthusiasts as a kit through hobbyist magazines such as Radio-Electronics and Popular Electronics. Assembly depended on the hobbyists mechanical ability a nd its performance was limited, yet many enthusiasts loved it as it represented an opportunity to own their first computer.
1976 A NEW HOPE In 1976 Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne (founders of Apple Computer Inc.) created The Apple I. Unlike other hobbyist computers of its day, the Apple was a fully assembled circuit board to which enthusiasts would add display units and keyboards. However it was the launch of the Apple II in 1977 that established the market for personal computers. The Apple II had the ability to display colour graphics, a function that had been the holy grail of the industry for a long time. It was a major commercial success, partly because it was the first computer to look like a real consumer electronics product. The focused effort to develop educational and business software such as the release of VisiCalc spread sheet, made the computer especially popular with business users and families.
THE IBM PC In 1981 IBM stunned the computing world with IBM 5150, commonly known as the IBM PC. The ‘PC’ stood for ‘personal computer’ making IBM responsible for popularising the term ‘PC’. IBM changed the face of personal computing and industry standards by allowing various IBM compatible machines to be produced legally by rival companies through its ‘open architecture’ system. Less than four months after IBM introduced the PC, Time Magazine named the computer “man of the year.” IBM would regret the decision not to write its own PC operating system. As IBM used the operating system - DOS - which it had licensed from the then tiny Microsoft company. This made Intel and Microsoft more powerful and reduced IBM’s market share.
1984 In 1984 Apple introduced The Macintosh or Mac series of personal computers. It was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface rather than a command-line interface. Apple continued to have success through the second half of the 1980s, primarily because the sales of the Apple II series remained strong even after the introduction of the Macintosh, only to see it dissipate in the 1990s as the personal computer market shifted toward the â€˜Wintelâ€™ platform: IBM PC compatible machines running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows.
1985 NeXT was founded in 1985 by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs after he was fired from Apple the same year. NeXT introduced the first NeXT Computer in 1988, and the smaller NeXTstation in 1990. Although NeXT failed to sell its elegant and infamously buggy black box, its innovative object-oriented NeXTSTEP operating system and development environment were highly influential. Apple purchased NeXT in 1996 and much of the current OS X and iOS operating systems are built on the OPENSTEP foundation.
THE NEXT LEVEL
GATES VS JOBS After Apple released the Macintosh in 1984 they licensed some aspects of the design to Microsoft so they could use it in their Windows system first which appeared in 1986. In 1987 Microsoft released Windows 2 which Apple felt used more of the ‘look and feel’ of the Macintosh than had originally been licensed and so they started legal action against Microsoft at the beginning of 1988. In 1997 Apple and Microsoft agreed to drop all outstanding legal disagreements with Microsoft investing $150 million in Apple stock and continuing to develop Office for the Mac, while Apple agreed to use Internet Explorer as the default web browser on the Mac. They both agreed to enter into a cross-licensing agreement to prevent future ‘misunderstandings’.
PAUL RAND Paul Rand was an American graphic designer, best known for his corporate logo designs. Rand’s most iconic work was for the corporate logo for IBM in 1956. The logo was modified by Rand in 1960 and the striped logo was created in 1972. Rand also designed packaging, marketing materials and assorted communications for IBM from the late 1950s until the late 1990s, including the well-known Eye-Bee-M poster. In 1986 Jobs wanting a logo for his new computer business, Next. He decided to go for the best – Paul Rand. But Rand was contracted to IBM at the time. After pestering IBM senior management, Jobs managed to get their permission to use Rand and flew him out to California. The Next was to be cube-shaped so Rand suggested the logo be so too.
1914 – 1996
RETURN OF JOBS In 1998, a year after Steve Jobs had returned to the company, Apple introduced an all-in-one Macintosh called the iMac. Its translucent plastic case, originally Bondi blue and later many other colours is considered an industrial design landmark of the late 1990s. The iMac proved to be phenomenally successful, with 800,000 units sold in 139 days.
WELCOME THE FUTURE It’s common to talk about a ‘Post-PC’ world. But PCs are not going to go away anytime soon. Sales figures show that the market may have flattened out somewhat, but it is still growing: 353 million PCs were sold in 2011. That’s a massive figure despite a global recession, and it’s the highest it has ever been. But surely this is the last hurrah of the PC now that cheaper and more advanced mobile phones and touch screen tablets are taking the stage? Isn’t it inevitable that the PC will dwindle and die out? While technologies don’t often die out completely, they can and do get confined to tiny niches that no longer affect the world as a whole. What is the next big thing?
LA ISU M FU
Published on May 20, 2013
Type to Touch tells the humble story of the origins of the typewriter to the domination of the touch pad today. Follow the key figures from...