Virtual Typewriter Museum: Hansen Writing Ball.

Rev. Rasmus Hansen (1835 - 1890) created this "writing ball", the world's first commercially produced typewriter, so his deaf students can "speak with their fingers."

The most striking feature of the writing ball is the semi-sphere on top of the machine, with 52 keys sticking out like a giant pin cushion. At the lower end of each stem is a character, cast in exactly the right angle to create a perfectly even print on the central printing point under the ball. The escapement mechanism moved the paper frame that held the paper one space until the end of the line was reached. By pushing the button on the left in front of the ball all the way down, the carriage was turned concentrically back to the beginning of the line and moved one line to the left.

Read all about the Hansen Writing Ball and other amazing typewriters at the Virtual Typewriter Museum - Thanks Mikolka!


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Rasmus Malling-Hansen was an inventor, educator, scientist, pastor, and linguist. The history of his writing ball and other related inventions can be found on the web site of the Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society, at www.malling-hansen.org. The web site includes a thorough biography, many photographs, and numerous pages devoted to his many different accomplishments and interests.

The next time you are in Copenhagen, please visit the Royal School for the Deaf where Malling-Hansen was the principal. There is a commemorative monument in the school courtyard. If you can't make it to Denmark, feel free to visit the school in a virtual way through the Society's web site and/or the School's own website, which is www.skolenpaakastelsvej.kk.dk.

Keep your thinking cap on!
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Thanks for sharing this post. Here's an expanded one based on it.

Deaf "Text Pager" from the Year 1865 "Your pager is so useful for jotting notes quickly, and sharing fast text communication with others. Let's go back to 1865 and see how some deaf people could do it long ago. The first manual typewriter in the world came about because of Deaf students at a residential school in Copenhagen in the late 1800s. Pictures! History! Intrigue!" [...] How did people type on it? [...] Hansen's Role in Deaf Education [...]"
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