Authoritative New History of Typewriters and Computer Keyboards Announced
“Shift Happens” offers exhaustively researched stories and discoveries about the people, politics, and technology behind typewriters, computer keyboards, and much more across its 1,216 pages and 1,300-plus photos.
CHICAGO, IL, 22 FEBRUARY 2023 – Aresluna LLC announces the book Shift Happens, an entertaining and authoritative history of keyboards, from typewriters to computers to mobile devices. The upcoming 1,216-page book, written and designed by Marcin Wichary, appears in two volumes divided between the analog and electronic eras of typewriters and computing devices. Wichary is a designer and historian who spent seven years researching what has become the most vivid and complete accounting of keyboards ever written. The publication date is September 2023. Wichary launched a crowdfunding campaign today on Kickstarter; thousands of interested readers had signed up to receive an alert when pre-orders began.
Wichary launched a crowdfunding campaign on February 7, 2023, with a goal of $150,000. That goal was exceeded within two hours. As of February 22, the book has passed $550,000 in funding, and is the all-time top funded non-fiction technology book in Kickstarter history, No. 2 among all non-fiction books, and No. 18 across the entire publishing category. The campaign continues through March 9. The campaign’s scale has allowed adding a third “extras” volume of photos and “making of” material. At least 5,000 copies will be printed in this edition.
“I wanted a book that told all the personal stories about keyboards tied in with a historical, social, and political context,” said Wichary. “I couldn’t find one, so I wrote Shift Happens.” Wichary’s interest in keyboards dates back decades to his childhood in Poland during the Cold War when computers were scarce and expensive. The book kicked off in 2016 after he accidentally wandered into the Technology Museum of l’Empordà in Figueres, Spain. The modest-seeming museum has among the world’s largest and most significant typewriter collections. A Twitter thread Wichary posted went viral, leading him down research and travel across several years.
The full-color book features over 1,300 photographs across 42 chapters. It contains many images never previously published – some from archives and personal collections – plus over 500 photos shot exclusively for this book by the author and others. Wichary conducted over forty interviews for the book, including some of the last conversations ever with a few key figures, now passed away. This includes legendary industrial designer Rick Dickinson, responsible for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum’s look, Bob Montgomery, a typewriter repairman who worked in the trade from age 13 through his passing at 96, and Peter Tytell, a document examiner and inheritor of a legendary typewriter store.
Starting in volume 1, with early typewriter and number-entry prototypes, and through the development of Remington, Underwood, and Selectric typewriters, Wichary brings forth exciting tales of testing, breakthroughs, crime, punishment, and speed-typing competitions, as well as the beginning of the transition from typewriters – through teletype, key punches, and word processors – into early computers. In volume 2, the book offers insights about home computer and personal computer keyboards, including the modern abandonment of mechanical keys for typing on glass, the rise of the mechanical keyboard community, and answers to questions asked by many keyboard aficionados.
The book’s editor is technology reporter turned printing historian, Glenn Fleishman. The book will be printed in the United States on a fine-arts book paper from a U.S. paper mill. Wichary is available for print and radio interviews, podcasts, and pre-taped and live video appearances.