TIMELINES: What predecessor to the computer was built by an Italian inventor April 30, 1808?

April 30, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 1808, construction of the first working typewriter was completed by the Italian mechanic and inventor Pellegrini Turri—although many similar machines were being invented around the same time. Turri invented the typewriter out of a practical need to assist a friend. He decided to build a writing machine so his blind friend—Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono—could write letters. In addition to constructing the world’s first working typewriter, Turri also invented carbon paper to provide the ink for his typewriter. Although not much is known about the specific design of Pellegrini’s typewriter, 16 letters that were written on the machine are persevered in a museum in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Today, in the middle of the digital computer age, a bit of industrial nostalgia is gaining popularity on the Internet with the success of Kasbah Mod—a New York-based retailer of designer, high-end vintage typewriters. Kasbah Mod launched in 2010. The vintage typewriters have their original parts repaired to ensure that the machines are operational in additional to having a cool, and in some instances, very unique exterior. According to Chase Gilbert, the man behind Kasbah Mod, the company sells around 75–100 refurbished machines per month, with prices ranging from $200 to $1,200. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Gilbert said, “There’s been a return to analog technology and I think people can really appreciate how well something works and how cool something looks, even 70 years after its production.”