Letter composed on an early typewriter, from inventor Charles Thurber, 1844

Bound correspondence volume with page 1 of Thurbers' letter. Letter typed in all capital letters in black ink with lots of space between lines.

Bound correspondence volume with page 1 of Thurbers' letter. Letter typed in all capital letters in black ink with lots of space between lines.

August 13, 2013

Transcript of typed letter to Perkins from Charles Thurber:

Norwich Aug. 5. 1844

Boston Institution for the Blind.

Just before Dr. Howe went to England, I had the pleasure of showing him a model of a printing press of my own invention and for which I had obtained letters patent. I originally designed it for the use of the nervous but in the course of my investigations the thought occurred to me that it would be beneficial to the blind in enabling them to commit their thoughts upon paper with accuracy and despatch. Dr. Howe was of a similar opinion and said the Institution would want one. Not knowing the one to whom Dr. Howe entrusted his business I take the liberty to direct this letter to the Institution for the Blind to inform you that I have just succeeded in getting one completed and that it operates just as I anticipated and to my entire satisfaction. I will barely remark that the operation is performed by simply touching keys as in a piano forte.

Raised letters are made upon the top of the keys and the blind will be able to distinguish the keys with accuracy and very great despatch. The machine with which I print this is for Geo. D. Prentice Esq. of the Louisville Journal. In this machine you will notice we have only capitals this was arranged at his particular request. He wished it to be as small as possible in consequence of paralysis in his hands. The lower case types will be used with the capitals although for the blind only the capitals or small types will be needed.

This machine will be sent to Louisville in a few days and I shall not have the pleasure of bringing it to Boston with it. I hope to get one done for the fair at Boston next month. In the mean time I would like to hear from you in this matter.

Yours truly
Charles Thurber

You will notice many inaccuracies in the printing of this letter. The reason is I have not become accustomed to the use of it, every defect will be remedied.


Excerpt from page 1 showing close up of text.

Excerpt from page 1 showing close up of text.

Second page of Thurbers' letter.

Second page of Thurbers' letter.


Charles Thurber's Patent Printer

Photograph of Thurber's printing machine, patented in 1843 from the collection of the Worcester Historical Museum. Keys are arranged in a circle on top with a carriage for paper beneath.

Photograph of Thurber's printing machine, patented in 1843.