Image of typewriter produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company.
Detail image of typewriter produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company.
A foot in the door for women

This typewriter was produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company, which had its headquarters in Chicago and its manufacturing plant in Woodstock. Oliver was the first company to produce a “visible writer” that allowed typists to see what they were typing. On earlier typewriters, typists had to raise the platen to see what they had typed. At the company’s peak in the late 1910s, it was producing 375 machines a day. More than a million were produced before the company was sold to British investors in 1931.

The typewriter was first patented in 1868, and mass production began in 1873. It soon revolutionized business communication by allowing for the quick, inexpensive, and legible production of documents. The typewriter also contributed to the feminization of secretarial work by creating opportunities for women to enter the white-collar workforce. By 1890, 45,000 typists in America were women.

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