19 Jan 2015

Nietzsche’s Typewriter

, , , ,

Friederich Nietzsche’s Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, 1882, an example of the world’s first commercially produced typewriter.


In 1881, when he had serious problems with his sight, Friedrich Nietzsche wanted to buy a typewriter to enable him to continue his writing, and from letters to his sister it is known that he personally was in contact with “the inventor of the typewriter, Mr Malling-Hansen from Copenhagen”. He mentioned to his sister that he had received letters and also a typewritten postcard as an example. Nietzsche received his writing ball in 1882 directly from the inventor in Copenhagen, Denmark, Rasmus Malling-Hansen. It was the newest model, the portable tall one with a color ribbon, serial number 125, and several typescripts are known to have been written by him on this writing ball (approximately 60). It is known that Nietzsche was also familiar with the newest model from E. Remington and Sons (model 2), but he wanted to buy a portable typewriter, so he chose to buy the Malling-Hansen writing ball, as this model was lightweight and easy to carry. Unfortunately, Nietzsche wasn’t totally satisfied with his purchase and never really mastered the use of the instrument. A number of theories have been advanced to explain why Nietzsche did not make more use of it. For example, Rüdiger Safranski indicates it was “defective”. New research indicates Nietzsche was not aware that his trouble in using the machine had been caused by damage to it during transportation to Genoa in Italy, where he lived at the time, and when he turned to a mechanic who had no typewriter repair skills, the man managed to damage the writing ball even more. Nietzsche claimed that his thoughts were influenced by his use of a typewriter (“Our writing instruments contribute to our thoughts”, 1882).

Nietzsche’s Writing Ball


Please Leave a Comment!

Please note: Comments may be moderated. It may take a while for them to show on the page.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark