The folk at the ever excellent Dangerous Minds specialize in unearthing fascinating things from the Internet, and they’ve surpassed themselves with a picture of Friedrich Nietzsche’s typewriter. Intriguingly, it turns out that he was a fan of the Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a remarkable contraption that was one of the first commercially produced typewriters. Dating from 1865, the Malling-Hansen is one of the most wonderfully strange devices ever conceived, but only because it looks so different from what we consider a keyboard to be. Manual typography produced some fascinating designs in its early years, and interestingly enough, continues to do so today. Beyond a plain old QWERTY, there’s a whole world of strangeness out there — so here’s a selection of weird and wonderful typewriters, both past and present.
The Mailing-Hansen Writing Ball, 1865
First, Nietzsche’s favorite, which was invented in Denmark in 1865 and had been around for over a decade by the time Nietzsche ordered his. Who knows? If the ball layout had caught on, perhaps we’d all be sitting here typing on spherical touchpads — as it is, it remains a relic of a different time, and wouldn’t look out of place in your average steampunk setting.