Writing Ball is a Sphere of Steampunk Goodness

Back in the days of the Victorians, this “writing ball” was conceived of as a typing machine.  That’s right.  The Malling-Hansen Writing Ball is the real deal.

It’s hard to say if this is a replica or the original.  But it’s very possible that this is the real deal.  The layout of the keys is slightly different from the QWERTY keyboards that we use today.  Then again, over the years there have been a number of different keyboard layouts, and our current QWERTY boards are a throw back to the time when designers needed to slow typers down to prevent jamming the keys of normal keyboards.  On the otherhand, Hansen was actually trying to figure out which letter configuration would allow for the fastest typing.

The original post lists the Writing Ball as an antique, so that should be a tip off that this is not a replica.  The Hansen Writing Ball was originally designed by Rasmus Malling-Hansen.  At the time, good ol’ Rasmus was the reverend and principal at the Royal Institute for deaf-mutes in Copenhagen.  That was back in 1865.  The Writing Ball also proves that they knew all about ergonomics back in the day.

So what exactly are we looking at?  We’re looking at one of the earliest typewriters, this one utilizing 52 keys set on brass hemisphere.

If you’re into history and/or philosophy, you might be interested to know that Fredrich Nietzche purchased a writing ball from Hansen in 1882.  Although, the philosopher, it seems, was not totally satisfied with the instrument.  Another famous personality that allegedly used the Writing Ball was Mark Twain.  But, as always, these things can be remarkably difficult to verify.

During the debut of the Writing Ball in 1878 at an international exhibition in Paris, ten machines were sold to buyers all over the world (including the US and Peru.)  Sadly, it’s believed that very few of these machines are still in existence.   Although hundreds of these typing machines were produced and sold, they’ve fallen through the cracks of most historical texts – which is somewhat ironic, considering that they were writing machines.

If you’re interested in typewriter-related things, you may be interested in our review of Manual Typewriter Sculptures, and/or check out this amazing Typewriter Orchestra Song video.

Via: Gear Fuse