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While it was made available to the public for purchase sometime during the 1870’s, it wasn’t until eight years later that sales took off.
That’s because former journalist Christopher Sholes came up with the idea of rearranging the letters on the keyboard to prevent the keys from jamming.
His new arrangement was called QWERTY, which basically are the first six letters of the second row on all keyboards.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the invention with the unusual keyboard name is the typewriter.
Once Sholes made the keyboard easier to use, the typewriter grew in popularity, particularly among writers.
One of those writers was literary great, Mark Twain.
But what few people realize is that for Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, using the typewriter was a love-hate relationship.
Before the invention of the typewriter, writers like Twain relied mostly on fountain pens, which were prone to leaking, sometimes resulting in ink smudges all over their papers.
And, of course, not to mention how much time was devoted to drafting a story by hand.
However when a salesman explained how the new contraption worked, Mr. Twain was impressed with its speed … the ability to create 57 words in one minute.
But he was also doubtful it could truly work that fast. So the salesman offered Mr. Twain a live demonstration.
As he watched the young typist at work, Twain said, “She actually did the 57 in 60 seconds. We were partly convinced but said it probably couldn’t happen again. But it did. We timed the girl over and over again — with the same result always: she won out.”
He then shelled out $125, buying the typewriter on the spot. And while he recognized its value as a tool to aid in his writing, Mark Twain eventually began to hate the “newfangled typing machine.”
Twain wrote, “After a year or two, I found that it was degrading my character. It is full of caprices, full of defects — devilish ones.”
Mr. Twain stopped using it … even giving the typewriter away to a fellow writer and friend, William Dean Howells.
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So what happened when Mark Twain gave his friend the typewriter? Six months later, Mr. Howells gave it right back to him. So Mark decided to keep it and experts say that Life on the Mississippi was the first literary masterpiece ever written on a typewriter.
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »
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