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Key Invention

June 23, 2014

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Profile America — Monday, June 23rd. The keyboard on your computer is descended from the invention of Christopher Sholes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On this date in 1868, he patented the first practical typewriter, with the now familiar placement of keys. Its acceptance was slow, and for several decades, many people considered it slightly insulting to receive a typewritten letter. But as machines improved, the advantages of the typewriter became clear. The need for skilled typists allowed many women to first enter the world of business. Decades ago, about a quarter of all high school students were enrolled in typing classes. Today, even though typewriter manufacturing has dwindled to near vanishing and moved off-shore, nearly 79 percent of American household have some form of keyboard in it, as that's the extent of computer ownership. Profile America is in its 17th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kane's Famous First Facts, 2385
Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 377 table 4

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: May 20, 2014