Sholes thought he was dying and wouldn't even see the end of the enterprise. But as to his forecast about the typewriter's longevity, he was of course dead wrong. One hundred and thirty-seven years later, the typewriter is still being made.
Only a few months before writing this exceedingly pessimistic letter to Amos Densmore, Sholes believed he was "big with prophecy". And indeed he was.
In July 1877 Sholes' lungs began to bleed. After a serious relapse that September, he decided to escape another Milwaukee winter and join his son Clarence Gordon "Cass" Sholes (1845-1926) in Colorado. In November he spent a few weeks recuperating at the foot of Pikes Peak in Manitou.
Sholes returned to Manitou Springs in February 1878, in time to celebrate his 59th birthday there. He resigned from the Milwaukee board of public works, hoping and praying what little money that came in from the typewriter enterprise would be enough to keep him going.
He stayed on in Colorado through the spring, his mind following a chain of thought that had started with the news of the invention of Thomas Edison's phonograph.
Sholes saw a future in which newspapers would be obsolete. Daily news would be recorded on tinfoil cylinders and then reproduced on a clockwork mechanism in every home. "While the family breakfasted or dined, the children and the older folk alike would become well informed in spite of themselves. The correspondence and records of business offices would be served by the same mechanical magic, and so the typewriter would be eliminated along with the printing press."
Sound familiar? Yes, Sholes might have been very wrong about the typewriter and its ability to survive beyond 1883. But in the spring of 1878, in Manitou Springs, he envisaged 2015, with a clarity that matched the crisp Colorado air around him.