Thursday 16 January 2014

Nietzsche's Writing Ball, an historical re-formed invention

Typing as we know it, has for sometime relied upon using qwerty keyboards, but unremarkably perhaps, the worlds first typewriter was hemispherical.

The worlds first commercially sold typewriter ever made was engineered by a Danish inventor, Rasmus Malling-Hansen in 1870, known as the Hansen writing ball.

As can be seen in the image here this writing ball was not a qwerty keyboard that apparently arrived a mere 4 years later from Sholes & Glidden otherwise known as the Remington typewriter.

As we know the qwerty keyboard typewriter has been and still is our main technical interface for writing and publishing. Thus when the Remington emerged onto the stage for writers the western world over, the Malling-Hansen's invention was almost completely forgotten. 

Less than 200 writing balls were ever built, and only about 40 are known today, but if weren't for the enterprising skills of a Multimedia/VR Designer and owner of one of these witting balls we may not be so lucky to see one of these historically  magnificent technological devices operating.

Felix Herbst was fortunate, perhaps, to be the owner of  the german philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's, edition, who bought it in 1882.

Herbst, rebuilt the writing ball in 2010, using images and patent applications as reference. He then set about creating an interactive mechanical artefact, was modelled with 3ds max software, which we can view in his well made video: 

Further and perhaps more enjoyable Herbst, made an interactive version of this (with Unity3D), in which you can just like in the above video, enlarge to full screen and with your mouse, manipulate the machine, you might even find how to strike the keys to cause it to type!

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