Keyboards are so ubiquitous now that we take them for granted and sometimes forget what a newsworthy and amazing device they could be back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Can you imagine the astonishment of the crowds at the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in 1915 when confronted by the sight of an Underwood 14 ton typewriter that was 21 feet wide and 15 feet high?
Then to the other extreme – don’t think that miniature keyboards on your smart phone are a recent invention. As reported on 17 April 1923, Dr H.E. Wetherill demonstrated his typewriter that weighed just one ounce, fitted neatly into his waistcoat pocket and on which he was able to type 17 words per minute. Not bad!
Think that glove boxes designed with an iPad in mind, and working while on the move are new ideas? Not at all. Back in 1926 Mr Ivan H. Parker showed off his specially designed new car that boasted everything the businessman on the move might want. It included special arrangements for sleeping accommodation for the driver, plus a removable table fitted to the dashboard that could be used as a typing desk, and small compartments with sliding panels behind the dash to hold any necessary equpiment/supplies. “Utility and appearance combined”.