Thinking more about http://typophile.com/node/102265#comment-554633, I realized that I know zilch about fonts used on the older-generations typewriters. You know: those before Selectric’s changeable type (or was there changeable type before IBM?), and before Courier.
(For Selectric, it is clear what to do: the specimens are supposed to be available from IBM on http://ibmcomposer.org/joomla/images/stories/fonts/ComposerFonts.pdf, but this download is broken; I used http://luc.devroye.org/IBMSelectricComposerFonts.pdf.)
All I could find on typophile is the discussion of keycap's font on http://typophile.com/node/60016, and the what-is-this-typewriter police academy paper mentioned on http://typophile.com/node/58501#comment-480816 (and this paper mentions only shapes of a handful of letters, and not combinations). Well, there is also http://typophile.com/node/16094, but I cannot make anything from this. So:
- how was the font for the first typewriter chosen?
- why so ugly? Is it to hide unreliable positioning of letters on the line? (And, in pre-electric times, variable strike force?)
- how much choice of different types was actually there? (Within a manufacturer, or across manufactures?)