Uncover Friedrich Nietzsche’s Typewriter, the Curious “Malling-Hansen Writing Ball” (Circa 1881)

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Throughout his last decade, Friedrich Nietzsche’s worsening structure continued to plague the thinker. Along with having suffered from incapacitating indigestion, insomnia, and migraines for a lot of his life, the Eighteen Eighties led to a dramatic deterioration in Nietzsche’s eyesight, with a health care provider noting that his “proper eye might solely understand mistaken and distorted photos.”

Nietzsche himself declared that writing and studying for greater than twenty minutes had grown excessively painful. Along with his mental output reaching its peak throughout this era, the thinker required a tool that may let him write whereas making minimal calls for on his imaginative and prescient.

So he sought to purchase a typewriter in 1881. Though he was conscious of Remington typewriters, the ailing thinker seemed for a mannequin that may be pretty transportable, permitting him to journey, when vital, to extra salubrious climates. The Malling-Hansen Writing Ball appeared to suit the invoice:

In Dieter Eberwein’s free Nietzches Screibkugel e-book, the vice chairman of the Malling-Hansen Society explains that the writing ball was the closest factor to a 19th century laptop computer. The primary commercially-produced typewriter, the writing ball was the 1865 creation of Danish inventor Rasmus Malling-Hansen, and was proven on the 1878 Paris Common Exhibition to journalistic acclaim:

“Within the 12 months 1875, a fast writing equipment, designed by Mr. L. Sholes in America, and manufactured by Mr. Remington, was launched in London. This machine was superior to the Malling-Hansen writing equipment; however the writing ball in its current type far excels the Remington machine. It secures better rapidity, and its writing is clearer and extra exact than that of the American instrument. The Danish equipment has extra keys, is way easier, constructed with better precision, extra stable, and far smaller and lighter than the Remington, and furthermore, is cheaper.”

Regardless of his preliminary pleasure, Nietzsche rapidly grew uninterested in the intricate contraption. In keeping with Eberwein, the thinker struggled with the system after it was broken throughout a visit to Genoa; a clumsy mechanic attempting to make the required repairs might have damaged the writing ball even additional. Nonetheless, Nietzsche typed some 60 manuscripts on his writing ball, together with what will be the most poignant poetic remedy of typewriters to this point:

“THE WRITING BALL IS A THING LIKE ME:

MADE OF IRON YET EASILY TWISTED ON JOURNEYS.

PATIENCE AND TACT ARE REQUIRED IN ABUNDANCE

AS WELL AS FINE FINGERS TO USE US.”

Along with viewing a number of of Nietzsche’s unique typescripts on the Malling-Hansen Society web site, these wanting a better have a look at Nietzsche’s mannequin can view it within the video under.

Notice: This put up initially appeared on our website in December 2013.

Ilia Blinderman is a Montreal-based tradition and science author. Comply with him at @iliablinderman.

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