LIFE photo gallery: In Praise of the Typewriter

Typewriter Burroughs

When I took typing class in 9th grade, I was by far the fastest in the class. (That's because I spent nearly all my non-school time hammering on my Apple ][e.) I still received a "D" in the class though. Why? I glanced at the keys while typing. At one point, the teacher placed a cardboard shield over the keys so I couldn't see them. That didn't end well. I also recall that the typing classroom had a mix of old manuals and a few IBM Selectrics, the battleship of electric typewriters. So we had to switch seats each class to give everyone a chance with the elegant typeball technology. Relive the clickety-clacking history at LIFE's typewriter photo gallery. Above, William S. Burroughs. At left, the fifth typewriter invention patented in the US. "In Praise of the Typewriter"