Underwood No 1 typewriter, 1897.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This was the first typewriter with a writing area facing the user and type bars that stay out of sight until a key is struck. These features, shared by all subsequent typewriters, made it easy for the typist to see and if necesary correct the typing as it proceeded. The mechanism was developed in the USA by Franz X Wagner from about 1892 and taken up, in 1895, by John T Underwood (1857-1937), a producer of office supplies. The Underwood had a light touch and was also the first machine with a tabulator to facilitate neat columns.