Five thousand years have passed since the invention of the manuscript and 500 years since that of printing. The typewriter has been in existence for a little more than 100 years but the personal computer, which has become widespread only in the last few decades, has already more or less made it a redundant curiosity. Yet was it not the typewriter that first transformed the traditional conditions and practices of written production, literary or otherwise, that today only the general use of the personal computer appears to put into question? Has not the typewriter left its mark on twentieth-century literature, most of which has at one moment or another of its elaboration passed through its keys? Is the typescript comparable to the manuscript and if so to what extent? Is it possible to envisage a typology of writers’ typescripts, comparable to that of manuscripts, and if so according to what criteria – the semiotics of the script? its genesis? Finally, as the first case of interaction between the machine and literary creation does the typewriter not have something to teach us about the writing processes that it generates? The starting point for this essay is the point of view of genetic criticism – the study of the origin of literary texts starting from the materials of their elaboration. However, if one wishes to define the role played by the typewriter in this field, it is necessary to take into consideration larger perspectives including historical, sociological, economic, cognitive, technical and – last but not least – epistemologica!.