Sholes Visible: video

by | Aug 25, 2012 | Sholes Visible | 12 comments

I know some readers are eager to see this typewriter in action, so here’s a video that may provide some insight. I apologize for the shaky one-handed camera work, but I think it gives you a general idea of the mechanism, which is really pretty simple.

In order to work correctly the typewriter needs the guide plate, which keeps the typebars moving in a precise path — first slightly toward the center, then up to the platen, and then back to the original position. Of course, it also needs the escapement, the carriage, etc. But in this partially reassembled state, you get the best view of the fundamental mechanism.


  1. notagain

    That's very interesting! Thanks for posting it.

  2. Mark

    Thank you for posting this, it does what I thought it did, but what about the typebars farthest back? They look like thy would be blocked by the others, do they come up around the side? This is such a cool machine. Thank you for the well done documentation and sharing of your work on this typewriter.

  3. Ton S.

    Yay to this video! It's really great to see that you're bringing the Sholes back to life a piece at a time. Will look forward to the next few installments.

  4. Ted

    fascinating! (:

  5. L Casey

    Awesome demonstration. I have the same question as Mark: how do the typebars on the bottom make their way up?
    Thanks so much for sharing this. Seems like you have made some real progress putting it back together already. Aw yea.

  6. schrijfmachine

    Thanks for the long waited for video! To be honest, I didn't have a clue how it would function, but this looks nice! I would also like to know about the typebars under the upper ones.

  7. Richard P

    To answer those who are puzzled about the lower typebars: this is the most distinctive and peculiar feature of the Sholes Visible. When the guide plate is attached, the typebars line up in two neat rows, with just enough space for one typebar to pass between the rows. The typebar moves into this middle space, shoots up to the printing point, and goes back into place, all in a fraction of a second. I'll post another video soon that shows this.

  8. Mark

    Ok, that makes more sense. Can't wait to see the video.

  9. Miguel Chávez

    Fascinating! I wonder if this design will prevent the typebars from jamming when you press two keys at the same time. Must have been very expensive to build, but by the looks of it, it was very ingenious and efficient.

  10. Scott K

    OH! I kinda figured out that it would be pushed to a centre channel, but you've explained the key missing element – the guide that keeps them nice and neat, so they can shift up through the centre row.

    Fascinating, and amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    I'd imagine this would be a bit… rubbish when typing at any serious pace though, as you'd probably keep bashing typebars into the centre channel. So…. slow typing only.

  11. Richard P

    That is the criticism made of this typewriter in the literature, and yes, it's an issue — one typebar has to get out of the way before another one can come up. But the system works better than you'd think. You'll see in the next video.

  12. Anonymous

    That's probably the reason this is the only typewriter with this design that I know of.


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