Word Processing 1890s Style

Victor Typewriter1

If you get frustrated with Microsoft Word, just look at what you had to contend with in the 1890s.

The machine to the right was made by the Tilton Manufacturing Company of Boston. It is what was known as an index typewriter — it had one key, you chose the letter to type with the dial.

1890s Laptop2

The typewriter was intended to be portable. In fact, as shown in the illustration of it in use, it may have been the world’s first laptop. No problem with battery life!


  1. Typewriter in the collection of Skinner Museum, South Hadley, Massachusetts.
  2. Illustration from The Martin Howard Collection.

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Updated February 9, 2014.