Underwood Model 5


The Underwood Model 5, introduced in 1899, is the result of almost thirty years of innovation and improvements in typewriter manufacture. It became the ubiquitous office machine for another thirty years, and its sales led Underwood to dominate the market. The Model 5 became the modern standard of how a typewriter worked and what it looked like.

The first successful commercial typewriter, developed by Christopher Scholes and Carlos Glidden, was brought to the public in 1874 by the Remington Company. Two elements from that first machine remained dominant in the design of eventual typewriters: the QWERTY keyboard, a pattern of letters on the keyboard, and the telegraph type key movement. At first sales were slow, but the typewriter industry grew as businesses expanded along with their need to retain records, and process paperwork at fast speeds. More and more people, mostly women, learned the new skill of typing, creating a new class of clerical worker, according to historian JoAnne Yates.

There were a handful of typewriter manufacturers by the end of the 1880s such as Remington, a leader in the industry, L.C. Smith & Brothers, Caligraph, Hammond, and a number of smaller firms. As the number of manufacturers grew, so too did the improvements, including the addition of a shift key to activate upper and lower case letters, the size and weight had been reduced but until 1895, but typists could not see what they had typed until the typed page advanced forward.

In the early 1890s, Franz X Wagner, a German immigrant, engineered the first reliable "visible" typewriter that allowed the typist to see the text as they typed. Wagner had already designed several earlier typing machines. John T. Underwood, producer of office supplies such as carbon paper and ribbons, purchased Wagner's design and manufactured it as the Underwood Model 1 in 1895. Unlike earlier machines, which had an up strike type bar from underneath the paper, the new design in

After six years and two other models that improved touch, and tab function and provided quieter operation, Underwood came out with the Model 5 in 1900. Compared to earlier machines of the 1870s, this machine is plain. The machine in the collection was produced in 1910. It has a black frame with gold lettering and stripping.

Date Made: 1914

Maker: Underwood Typewriter Company

Subject: TypewriterOffice Machines


See more items in: Work and Industry: Mechanisms, Work, Computers & Business Machines, Industry & Manufacturing, American Enterprise, Artifact Walls exhibit

Exhibition: American Enterprise

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Related Publication: Sewer, Andy; Allison, David; Liebhold, Peter; Davis, Nancy; Franz, Kathleen G.. American Enterprise: A History of Business in America

Credit Line: Underwood Elliott Fisher Co.

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: ME.312108Accession Number: 161692Catalog Number: 312108

Object Name: typewriter

Physical Description: metal (body material)Measurements: overall: 12 in x 18 in x 12 in; 30.48 cm x 45.72 cm x 30.48 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-e315-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_998196

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