“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.’

Sources: Jason Congdon / Malling-Hansen Society / Auction Team Köln / OzTypewriter

10 Responses

  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. Daniel Beardsall

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

    Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. llhall

    @Daniel
    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.

    Reply
  6. Jinx

    I wonder if this was the type that Twain used? He was the first author to type his manuscripts.

    I also would LOVE to see one on the hoof, and perhaps try it out! A beautiful functional piece!

    Reply
  7. Paul

    There were many different versions of the writing ball. You can learn more about Malling-Hansen, his inventions, and his fascinating life at the website of the International Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society: http://www.malling-hansen.org. Enjoy!

    Reply

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