While many of us have become accustomed to the world of virtual keys on tablets, phones and laptops, we often forget about the technologies that came before them, such as the typewriter. In 1868, a man by the name of Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for his invention of the typewriter, which spawned a booming industry in Hartford. One of the major typewriter manufacturers of the 1900s was the Royal Typewriter Company.
Royal Typewriter Company was founded in 1904 by inventor Edward B. Hess and Lewis C. Myers in Brooklyn, New York. The following year, the company received financial support from philanthropist Thomas Fortune Ryan, and by 1906 the first typewriter (the “Royal Standard”) was produced. In search for more production space, Royal Typewriter arrived from Bay Ridge, Long Island, NY to Hartford in 1908, after land was purchased to build a four-story plant on New Park Avenue. The land was sold by Mrs. Gilbert F. (Louise M.) Heublein, and the company’s future piqued the interest of many, including the Guggenheim family.
Besides producing manual, portable and automatic typewriters, Royal also provided office supplies such as typewriter ribbon, carbon paper, and servicing for business equipment. The Royal Typewriter, Ltd. served various parts of the world, including Canada, Holland and Europe, and the company connected with various organizations, including the Girls Club, the Boys Club, and the Royal Typewriter Fife and Drum Corps.
Today the Royal Typewriter Company is known as Royal Consumer Information Products Inc., and manufactures more products, including shredders, cash registers and postal scales. Select records for books, additional photograph images, and objects can be found at HistoryCat, Connecticut History Online, and eMuseum.
Sierra Dixon is a Research & Collections Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society