No "1" key on the typewriter!

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    Many old typewriters do not contain a separate key for the numeral 1 or the exclamation point, and some even older ones also lack the numeral zero. Typists who learned on these machines learned the habit of using the lowercase letter l for the digit 1, and the uppercase O for the zero. The exclamation point was a three-stroke combination of an apostrophe, a backspace, and a period. These characters were omitted to simplify design and reduce manufacturing and maintenance costs; they were chosen specifically because they were "redundant" and could be recreated using other keys. On modern keyboards, the exclamation point is the shifted character on the 1 key, a direct result of the heritage that these were the last characters to become "standard" on keyboards.

    J.A. Machado, Anon.Mouse, and clarkmaxwell added this photo to their favorites.

    1. nookshap 43 months ago | reply

      AH! that explains so much, Thanks

    2. wheatfieldcrows 31 months ago | reply

      What is that blank key for then?

    3. jeremyleader 30 months ago | reply

      I'm not sure, it looks like the lower part of the key at the upper left corner of the keyboard says "space", I suspect that the upper part says "back".

    4. textlad 30 months ago | reply

      Thanks for your comments - I decided to take more photos to help answer your questions. You can see the top-left key is not blank it actually says "backspacer". You can see it in these photos: and

    5. Anon.Mouse 28 months ago | reply

      My typewriter is missing the exclamation and 1, and I was wondering about that. Someone told me that they didn't have exclamation keys because the (I have a portable Smith-Corona Skywriter) reporters who frequently used the keyboards didn't or weren't supposed to use exclamation points.

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