There is a lot of history in old typewriters. CCHS has a collection of nearly a dozen Remington typewriters spanning nearly three-quarters of a century of history. Remington produced the first commercial typewriter in the 1870s. Mark Twain is said to have been the first American novelist to produce a manuscript on a typewriter. That typewriter happened to be a Remington. For over 35 years, the Remington Rand plant produced typewriters and office machines on Elmira’s south side.
Christopher Sholes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin began developing the first practical typewriter in 1866. For seven years, he and two friends, Samuel W. Soule and Carlos Glidden, built and tested various designs until they finally had a working model – the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer. In 1873, Sholes and his financial backer, James Densmore, contracted with E. Remington & Sons to produce the typewriter. In September of that year, the Remington No. 1 became the first ever commercially produced typewriter. The Remington No. 1 was also the first to have the QWERTY keyboard that is still used today rather than an alphabetically arranged keyboard. Sholes developed the new layout to keep the type bars from colliding so one could type faster.
In 1886, the Standard Typewriter Manufacturing Company bought the typewriter business from Remington. Standard Typewriter also bought the rights to continue using the Remington name, which by that time had developed a solid reputation. In 1902, Standard Typewriter changed its name to Remington Typewriter Company. The company merged with Rand Kardex Bureau in 1927 to form Remington Rand.
Remington Portable Typewriter, produced from 1920-1925
In the 1920s Remington adopted “To Save Time is to
Lengthen Life” as the advertising slogan for its typewriters.
In 1935, the idle Willys Morrow plant on South Main Street in Elmira went up for auction. Elmira Industries, Inc. bought the factory for $350,000 and offered it for free to Remington Rand if the company would relocate there. In 1936, Elmira Precision Tool Co. started making typewriter parts at the factory on contract for Remington Rand and a year later Remington Rand purchased the plant. During World War II, Remington Rand switched from manufacturing typewriters and business machines to wartime production. The top secret Norden bombsight was produced by Remington Rand in Elmira.
Remington Rand Model No. 17 was widely used
in government offices during World War II
Remington Standard Typewriter, c. 1950s.
Elmira’s Remington Rand plant, April 1965
|Remington Typewriter, c. 1960s