They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Was the typewriter mightier than the firearm? At one point Remington made both.

149 years ago, in 1873, Remington began production the very first commercial typewriter.

Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash
Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash
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THE HISTORY OF REMINGTON

Remington's history runs incredibly deep. It was founded in 1816 in Eliphalet Remington II, and became E. Remington & Sons in 1856 when his three sons joined the business. The Civil War helped propel Remington into a gunsmithing powerhouse by supplying the Federal Army with rifles, pistols and carbines. When the Civil War ended in 1865, Remington began making a large variety of firearms for civilian hunters and settlers of the west.

WHY TYPEWRITERS?

We can thank Christopher Latham Sholes for that. Sholes kept tabs on a hot new invention out of Britain that could supposedly produce letters faster than handwriting. But these early devices were as cumbersome and large as a piano. Like Eliphalet Remington and the firearm, Sholes thought he could build a better version of this device. Sholes obtained a patent for his version of the typewriter and took that design to Remington, where they signed a contract to manufacture them.

In these early years, Mark Twain purchased a Remington typewriter and became the first author to submit a typewritten manuscript for publication.

Mark Twain
Using a Remington typewriter, Mark Twain became the first author to submit a typewritten manuscript for publication (Getty Images)
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The first Remington typewriter TYPED IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. It wasn't until the Remington No. 2 when a shift key system was introduced.

THE DECLINE

Despite the success of the machine, E. Remington & Sons decided to withdraw from the typewriter business when it sold it to the Standard Typewriter Manufacturing Company in 1886. In a move of good business sense, they kept the Remington name on its future models.

The Mohawk Valley is still reeling from the effects of the closure of the Remington factory. More than 500 workers lost their jobs when it closed in October of 2020. At its peak in the early 1940s, Remington employed nearly 4,500 workers.

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