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raelwv
04-20-2015, 02:40 PM
I've got a story that's set in 1894 (it's steampunky) and involves a machine into which one character needs to feed data. I currently have him doing so with a keyboard, but several beta readers pointed out that typewriter/computer-style keyboards are a 20th Century creation.

Anybody have any idea on what kind of input device might be more period appropriate? I could always hand wave it away (it's steampunk, after all) but if there's something interesting out there that would work, that would be better.

Thanks,

Pyekett
04-20-2015, 03:07 PM
It could be a "typewriter." The patent for the first modern-style typewriter was applied for in late 1860s. The inventor, Christopher Sholes, designed the QWERTY keyboard.

http://todayinsci.com/S/Sholes_Christopher/SholesChristopher-HistoryOfTheTypewriter.htm


The patent is dated July 14, 1868, and is granted to C. Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule of Milwaukee. Wis. The device is described as “a new and useful improvement in typewriting machines.” I quote from the application as follows:

“Our invention relates to that class of machines designed to write with types instead of a pen, and the nature and principal feature of our improvements consist of a circular annular disk, provided with slots and grooves to hold and guide the type bars, a concentric groove around the periphery of the disk, to hold, support and guide the pivots of the type bars, the combination of rods, levers and keys for working the type bars, a carriage combined and provided with a pivotal pawl, arm and pins, [p.16] and attachments to move the paper vertically and laterally, and the combination of a rod and clamps, to hold the paper fast in the carriage.”

This site has a picture: http://mytypewriter.com/explorelearn/index.html


Before 1890, three distinct classes of typewriters had been developed and extensively used. One of these was the Hammond with all the type on a wheel and equipped with a double shift for capital letters and figures. Another class was equipped with a double keyboard for upper and lower case. While a double keyboard allows an operator to access all characters without using a shift key, the operator had to learn the position of a different key for both small letters and capitals. A third class, representing the most popular, was that which incorporated in individual type bar principle with a single shift keyboard, each bar carrying two type faces, small and capital letters. This popular construction, however, still lacked the vial quality of visibility, of allowing the operator to see each character as it was printed.

You might well find the exact wordage for "keyboard," if different from that term, in the patent applications. I didn't find it on a very quick Google, but that's all the time I have.

stephenf
04-20-2015, 03:11 PM
Hi
Your beta readers are wrong . There is some debate as to when the first typewriter was invented. The first machines to use a keyboards were used in the printing industry about 1714 . There were a number of writing machines built after that . Remington have been making typewriters , with a Qwerty keyboards since the 1870's

dpaterso
04-20-2015, 03:19 PM
As long as it's made of brass and has levers topped by snarling lion heads, I'll believe anything.

Maybe some keypunch variant that punches holes in cards or metal wavers could work in a Steampunk setting. Input your data cards into The Machine and listen to it whirring and clicking for an hour as it sorts them into order...

-Derek

MythMonger
04-20-2015, 08:16 PM
I had to learn this for virtually every computer course I took in the '80s:

"The standard punched card, originally invented by Herman Hollerith, was first used for vital statistics tabulation by the New York City Board of Health and several states. After this trial use, punched cards were adopted for use in the 1890 census."

http://whatis.techtarget.com/reference/History-of-the-punch-card

Deb Kinnard
04-20-2015, 08:41 PM
I had to learn this for virtually every computer course I took in the '80s: "The standard punched card, originally invented by Herman Hollerith, was first used for vital statistics tabulation by the New York City Board of Health and several states. After this trial use, punched cards were adopted for use in the 1890 census."

Oh, heavens above, don't remind me. I was the only woman in my college programming class in 1971, and I was the only one who could handle the keypunch machine. I did a lot of "Oh, PLEASE, Deb?" keypunch for a while. We programmed an IBM 360 mainframe off Hollerith cards. One typo and your "software" was doomed.

I was, however, very popular with the guys in my class, that term.

raelwv
04-21-2015, 06:12 AM
Thanks, everybody!

snafu1056
04-21-2015, 09:06 AM
If the word "typewriter" feels too modern, you could also use "caligraph". Both terms were in common use by the 1890s.


Here's an adding machine from 1893 if it gives you any inspiration

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y67/snafu1056/adometer93_zpszi7gbux4.jpg


You also might want to consider something like the dial-plate telegraph instead of keys. These were becoming passe by the 1890s (telephones were already on the rise), but it's an option.

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y67/snafu1056/dialplate_zpsyn1ry2gu.jpg

Rufus Coppertop
04-21-2015, 11:23 AM
but several beta readers pointed out that typewriter/computer-style keyboards are a 20th Century creation.
There are people in this world who would beta read for Bram Stoker and point out that vampires don't exist.

Becky Black
04-21-2015, 12:27 PM
According to http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=keyboard it goes back to 1819 for pianos and similar and by 1846 was extended to other machines. Maybe give his machine more a feel of a musical instrument than a typewriter, since keyboard has been used for those for even longer? Heh, a sort of pipe organ and computer combined sounds quite steampunkish.

But typewriters were certainly common in 1894. One of the earlier Sherlock Holmes stories - A Case of Identity, published 1891 - features a client who makes a living typewriting and some typewritten letters are crucial evidence in the case.

CWatts
04-21-2015, 03:07 PM
You could also have it look more like the Hansen Writing Ball, which came out in 1870: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansen_Writing_Ball

Real life steampunk, pretty much.

snafu1056
04-21-2015, 10:06 PM
But typewriters were certainly common in 1894. One of the earlier Sherlock Holmes stories - A Case of Identity, published 1891 - features a client who makes a living typewriting and some typewritten letters are crucial evidence in the case.

Yeah for sure. Perusing old (American) newspapers the earliest mention of typewriters I can find is from the late 1870's (when it was two words- "type writer"). By the 1880's you can find calls for "typewriter operators" in the help wanteds. By 94 they were undoubtedly a common fixture in most offices and probably the homes of writers.

King Neptune
04-21-2015, 11:19 PM
While the word was used for pianos, etc. it wouldn't have applied to typewriters, because the keys were separate, not built into a keyboard. I think that the keys were just called the typewriter keys. Someone would have pushed the keys, or something like that.

Alessandra Kelley
04-21-2015, 11:39 PM
Yeah for sure. Perusing old (American) newspapers the earliest mention of typewriters I can find is from the late 1870's (when it was two words- "type writer"). By the 1880's you can find calls for "typewriter operators" in the help wanteds. By 94 they were undoubtedly a common fixture in most offices and probably the homes of writers.
I believe at least at first "type writer" referred to the woman who did the job, as well as the tool to do it with.

snafu1056
04-22-2015, 12:24 AM
I believe at least at first "type writer" referred to the woman who did the job, as well as the tool to do it with.


Ah! Ok. Yeah that makes sense.

snafu1056
04-22-2015, 06:38 AM
Just for laughs. Here's a typewriter from 1888. Looks like the keyboard was 99% board, 1% key
http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y67/snafu1056/88-typewriter_zps67yixwgr.jpg

Layla Nahar
04-22-2015, 06:49 AM
That seems... rather cumbersome. But it's beautiful as hell

blacbird
04-22-2015, 06:59 AM
I believe Mark Twain invested a lot of money in a typewriter business and lost it big, which is one of the major things that forced him to go on long global lecture tours, at which he was a fabulous success.

caw

benbenberi
04-23-2015, 01:56 AM
Not typewriter, but typesetting: the "Paige Compositor (http://www.codex99.com/typography/124.html)." The company built a total of 2 machines. One ultimately ended up as scrap; the other is on display at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

His competition was Linotype, with a much better device that sold like hotcakes.

snafu1056
04-23-2015, 03:45 AM
Oh my god look at that thing.

MythMonger
04-23-2015, 09:01 PM
This complexity is perhaps best seen in Paige’s epic 1887 patent application which included 275 drawing sheets, 123 specification sheets and 613 claims.7 “The Whale” as it was known by the Patent Office was the largest patent application in US history. It took eight years to review, with one examiner spending a month onsite with the machine, another dying during review and yet another going insane.

:ROFL:

debirlfan
04-25-2015, 02:38 AM
I don't know if there's any way you could work something like this into your story, but I'd say it has the right "feel" -

http://www.chonday.com/Videos/the-writer-automaton

benbradley
04-25-2015, 03:42 AM
I've got a story that's set in 1894 (it's steampunky) and involves a machine into which one character needs to feed data. I currently have him doing so with a keyboard, but several beta readers pointed out that typewriter/computer-style keyboards are a 20th Century creation.

Anybody have any idea on what kind of input device might be more period appropriate? I could always hand wave it away (it's steampunk, after all) but if there's something interesting out there that would work, that would be better.

Thanks,
I think your beta readers are a little stuck up :D

Typewriters may not have been common until the 20th Century, but as others state, they existed before, and the idea of them being used to enter info in some mechanical "data processing" device isn't a stretch at all.

But for a long time there was a separate medium used to carry the info from where it was first recorded to where it was processed: The thumb drive, er, floppy diskette, uh, punched card.

How about a stylus or a ticket punch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticket_punch) that punches a hole in a card? In my tech history readings, I several times about how the 1890 Census data was much more efficiently collected and counted than in previous decades:

At the urging of John Shaw Billings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Shaw_Billings),[7] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Hollerith#cite_note-7) Hollerith developed a mechanism using electrical connections to trigger a counter, recording information. A key idea was that data could be encoded by the locations of holes in a card. Hollerith determined that data punched in specified locations on a card, in the now-familiar rows and columns, could be counted or sorted mechanically.
...
Hollerith built machines under contract for the Census Office, which used them to tabulate the 1890 census (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Census,_1890) in only one year.[11] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Hollerith#cite_note-loc-11) The previous 1880 census (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Census,_1880) had taken eight years.That's from The Fount Of All Knowledge's entry on this guy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Hollerith

The idea of using holes in cards to control mechanisms dates back well before then:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_card

Cath
04-25-2015, 04:15 AM
*ahem* let's focus on answering the question and not speculate about the beta readers, please.

benbenberi
04-25-2015, 08:29 PM
Typewriters were commercially manufactured from the 1860s & became popular quickly. For several decades there were a lot of competing designs and mechanisms in use -- as with many technologies, it took a while for one version to become the standard. The QWERTY keyboard was invented in the 1870s to address some of the issues that were emerging in practice. (People were typing too quickly for the mechanism to keep up with, the QWERTY keyboard was a way to slow them down.)

And the punched cards used in the 1890 census were an adaptation of a much older technology. Punched cards had been used to control textile looms since the early 1700s, and people had been developing ways to use them for other types of information storage & processing throughout the 19c. Wikipedia summarizes the highlights here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_card).

Given that, using a keyboard to punch data cards in a steampunky 1894 is not only plausible, but probable.

rwhegwood
05-12-2015, 11:00 AM
Don't forget Charles Babbage's difference and analytical engines...the first mechanical...but true turing compliant computers.