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'Columbia' typewriter, 1886.

'Columbia' typewriter, 1886.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm


The mechanism of this lightweight portable is simple. A wheel, carrying raised letters on its edge, is turned until the required character is at the bottom and then pushed down on to the paper. Just before it makes contact, a roller swings up to ink the type, and as the wheel is raised the carriage moves forward to make room for the next letter. The 'Columbia', invented by Charles Spiro, a New York watchmaker, even introduced proportional spacing, moving the paper one, two or three units according to the width of the preceding character.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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