JF Ptak Science Books Post 1635
“The most ignorant person at a reasonable charge, and with little bodily labor, may write books in philosophy, poetry, law, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.” Jonathan Swift, in Gulliver’s Travels (actually called Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, printed 1726).
Every age, every generation has a calling to the future that once that particular future arrives looks sometimes strangely like a past that was much further away than it was. Such is the case here, in September, 1867. in the pages of London's Punch Magazine, when Mr. Punch rhapsodized on the future possibilities of the new invention, the typewriter. [Related items are available at our blog bookstore, here.]
"Good News for Bad Writers" announced to the readership:
"Writing Superseded.—Mr. Pratt, of Alabama, is the inventor of a typewriting machine, lately exhibited to tho London Society of Arts, which is said to print a man's thoughts twice as fast as he can write them with the present process. By a sort of piano arrangement the letters are brought in contact with carbonised paper, which is moved by tho same manipulation,"
The editor of Punch sniffed out a deeper deal in the typewriter than simple legibility:
"Every author his own printer! What a happy state of things! No more struggles to write legibly with nibless tavern-pens: no more labour in deciphering the hieroglyphs of hasty writers. Literary work will be in future merely play—on the piano. The future Locke may write his essays by a touch upon the keys."
[Claes Oldenburg's "Soft Typeewriter, 1963.]