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How Was the First Keyboard Programmed?

The passion, tradition, and necessity of typing have existed among humans for ages. Centuries ago, all typing tasks were done by using typewriters. Before the computer was introduced, the concept of the keyboard came, which is much more accessible than the older typewriting machines.

While typing something, one might think out of nowhere that how was the first keyboard programmed and introduced. If you are also among those curious people, then the discussion below will assist you in this regard. The keyboard has a long history, as its concept came from vintage typewriters.

First Keyboard Programmed

A Short Brief on the History of the Typewriters to Keyboards

From history, it can be said that the first typing machines were designed and patented in the 1700s. But the first manufactured typing device came in the 1870s, which is known as the QWERTY Keyboard. It is also the first actual and properly usable typing machine that was introduced.

This QWERTY Keyboard was patented by Sholes and his partner James Densmore in 1878, as they are also known as the father of keyboards. But this keyboard was introduced with a “blind typing” technology in which you can’t see what you have typed until it is completed.

Along with that, characters were printed on upside-down pages while using the QWERTY Keyboards. Though it was the first keyboard, the first modern keyboard came in 1948, introduced by the Binac Computer. From then on, the concept of keyboards improved as the years passed.

From then on, with the improvisation, the keyboards got modernized and took the shape they are nowadays.

How was the First Keyboard Programmed – An In-Detail Discussion

The keyboard has a vast history behind it before it came into shape and position as it is in today’s condition. Now, let’s see how the first keyboard was programmed from its ancient version:

Phase – 1: The Writing Ball of Malling Hassen

In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was heard that there were devices known as Machines for Transcribing Letters. There were also typewriting devices in the next century, but none were clearly stated anywhere. After all these theories and assumptions, the first commercially produced typewriter was introduced in 1865.

Even after being commercial production, this typewriter remained unpatented until the year 1870. That year, Danish pastor Rasmus Malling-Hansen came into the picture to take matters into his own hands. He made a plan of putting the consonants to the right and vowels to the left of the keyboard or typewriter, whichever you call it.

He also placed the letters on short radial pistons in the keyboard, which was named the Writing ball because of its shape. Because of all these, the writing ball produced by Malling Hassen became a fast-speed typing machine. In this typing device, the paper used to be attached to a cylinder of the typewriter’s body.

There was also an inclusion of an electromagnetic battery in this typing device which was used to move the paper attached. Thus, the writing ball typing machine of Malling Hassen became the first-ever electric typewriter when it was patented.

Phase – 2: Sholes and Glidden Typewriter

Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel Soule, these names are quite crucial in the context of keyboards. They invented the typewriting machine in 1867, which was the first successful typing device of all time. Even after being a successful typing machine, its sales were slow and not that profitable.

It made the founders furious, and that’s why they sold their patent to Densmore and Yost for $12,000. After purchasing, one of the buyers, Densmore, tied up with another inventor named E. Remmington. Together, they decided to commercialize the typing machine for which they bought the patent.

Their decision was to introduce that typewriter with some improvements and with the name of Sholes and Glidden Typewriter in the market.

Phase – 3: The Typewriter of Remmington

E. Remmington first started making a typewriting machine in the year 1873. The creator of this typewriter included a QWERTY keyboard layout in it, along with adding a foot pedal like the sewing machines. It was added to this typing device for controlling carriage returns.

It wasn’t accepted in the first few years, but as E. Remmington added several improvements, people slowly started accepting it. One of the best things about this typewriter is adding the “Shift Key.” This inclusion came with the advantage of writing both lower-case and upper-case letters at the same time. 

The feature of printing on the roller’s upper side was also introduced to this typing device in 1880. Along with those, the creator introduced the tab key in 1897 to permit the setting of margins.

Phase – 4: The BINAC Computer Keyboard

In the meantime, the great Thomas Edison also entered the field of Keyboards. He first patented electric typewriters in 1872, when the first impactful typing devices were introduced. But the first workable keyboards from his creation were introduced to the masses in the 1920s. 

After about three decades of that, computers started being popular, even if they were just calculating devices till then. But still, data inputting was necessary, which is why the specialized computer keyboard was also required. The first keypunch devices were patented by the inventor, named Herman Hollerith. 

In the meantime, the Binac computer developed a typewriter keyboard unit that was modernized in every possible aspect. The idea behind this keyboard’s invention was to introduce data or programs into the computer. Keeping that in mind, the keyboard had the inclusion of eight keys with octal numbers ranging from 0-7.

This modern keyboard here is also the first ever electro-mechanically controlled typewriter. Then in 1954, the same Binac company came up with some improvements and introduced another variant of the computer keyboard. It had the inclusion of the newest feature, which was feeding data into the computer.

Then days passed, and the keyboards kept improving in every aspect. Newer features are being added to the keyboards daily, and even the keyboard has become wireless. That’s how the first keyboard was programmed and kept improving daily to become the latest version of it as it is nowadays.

Final Words

Keyboards are used as input devices for computers to type anything or command something. In the ancient era, when there was no computer, there were keyboards. At that time, those were known as the machines for transcribing letters and later as typewriters. 

After knowing about this fascinating history, curiosity about how was the first keyboard programmed is obvious to arrive. That has been answered in the discussion above, which will take you through history lane. It will take you on a tour from the first concept of the keyboard to the latest version of it.