The Writing Ball

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  • ‘The Hansen Writing Ball was invented in 1865 by the Rasmus Malling-Hansen. The writing ball was first patented and entered production in 1870, and was the first commercially produced typewriter.’

    - Wikipedia

    Nietzsche owned a writing ball and wrote a poem about it:

    ‘The Writing Ball is a thing like me: of iron
    Yet twisted easily – especially on journeys.
    Patience and tact must be had in abundance
    As well as fine [little] fingers to use us.’

    Thank you to Jason Congdon and the Malling-Hansen Society.

    Image: Auction Team Köln.

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    7 comments to The Writing Ball

    • R. Trentham Roberts

      Good timing. In a month’s time (July 31), we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the IBM Selectric typewriter — the one with the golf ball.

    • Daniel Beardsall

      I imagine you’d get some chronic RSI trying to use that for any amount of time. Looks beautiful though.

    • burntcopper

      actually, that looks… surprisingly usable. I use a trackerball-in-centre mouse, keys under thumb and little finger. I also have tiny hands, so one-handed typing on that would only take a bit’ve practice.

    • Jane

      A thing of beauty x

    • Nick

      it is beautiful now. but it looks like a major source of frustration for those who used this contraption. i wonder how many times these things heard curse words.

    • llhall

      Actually, the Hansen typewriter was designed to be incredibly ergonomic. Malling-Hansen had the original thought to use it as an easier way to communicate for deaf-mutes at the Copenhagen institute.

    • _mark

      dig it. love to have a reproduction of this.

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