Underwood typewriter no.5, made in NYC, early 20th Century


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Underwood typewriter no.5

The Underwood No. 5 typewriter was the most successful typewriter design in history and set the standard for all manual typewriters that came after it. The Underwood No. 5 typewriter dominated the typewriter market for the three decades it was in production with millions produced and sold from 1900/1901 to 1931/1932. The Underwood established the stereotype of a typewriter until the introduction of the IBM Selectric in 1961 and the Underwood No. 5 was the quintessential Underwood with millions of Underwood machines used by secretaries, journalists, government officials, and writers throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

When the Underwood was first introduced, it was only one of hundreds of competing and extremely varied typewriter designs. But by 1920, almost every typewriter imitated the Underwood. The Underwood typewriter was the creation of German-American inventor Franz X. Wagner, who had earlier been involved with other typewriter models, such as the Densmore. The name “Underwood” comes from John T. Underwood, an entrepreneur and son of a typewriter ribbon manufacturer who bought the company early in its history. The company was eventually bought by Olivetti, and in the early 1960s, the name “Underwood” finally disappeared from the typewriter world nearly sixty years after the first Underwood typewriter appeared in 1895.


Printing & Writing
Object Number:
Crisp, M.

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