Malling Hansen
Malling Hansen

Peter Mitterhofer

Peter Mitterhofer, born in Parcines, was an unappreciated genius and the inventor of the typing machine

Born on September 20, 1822, in the South Tyrolean village of Parcines, Peter Mitterhofer decided to became a carpenter and cabinet maker just the way his father was. Soon after finishing his apprenticeship, he started working under masters of other towns and travelled across Europe. Back to Parcines, he became married and worked as a carpenter. Already then he loved thinking about new tools and invented, for instance, a transformable wheel-barrow or a washing machine.

In 1864 Mitterhofer started inventing his first typing machine. It was this a prototype called “Wiener Modell 1864″, which he actually never finished and nowadays might be seen at the Vienna Museum of Technology. His second typing machine was named “Dresdner Modell” and is exhibited at the Dresden Technical Collections. This one actually way mainly made of wood. The third prototype was never found, we know however that it used a platen.

His fourth prototype, called “Meraner Modell 1866″, was made of metal and capable to differ between upper and lower case and to write numbers. Only the fifth prototype was a finally complete typing machine, ready for use. But soon Mitterhofer created an improved version and sold them both for 200 and 150 guilders to emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria for the Polytechnic Institute. To bring them to Vienna, Mitterhofer travelled there by foot, but as the expected success wouldn’t come he finally stopped improving them or inventing new ones.

It was the American Christopher Latham Sholes who then worked further on Mitterhofer’s typing machine and built up a profitable business with it. Even though Mitterhofer was still alive at the time, he didn’t follow it. He died in 1893 in Parcines, left alone and bitterly disappointed.

In 1998 the typewriter museum “Peter Mitterhofer” opened its doors in Parcines, where you can watch some 1,200 typing machines. Here you will get to know everything about this fascinating machine, from its beginnings to the arrival of the computer era.

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