'Ancestor of Writing Machines'
Arguably the single most important patent issued in the history of typewriters was granted to Jefferson Moody Clough and William McKendree Jenne, two mechanical engineers at E.Remington & Sons at Ilion in New York, on this day (January 15) in 1878. This is the patent that "made" the typewriter. It's also the patent that earned Jenne the title "The Father of the Writing Machine".
The patent had been applied for on November 19, 1875, 16 months after the Remington-built Sholes & Glidden had reached the marketplace.
Clough was superintendent of the Remington arms works and Jenne assistant superintendent of the sewing machine department.
Their patent was assigned to The Type Writer Company, incorporated on December 28, 1874, and owned by James Densmore and George Yost (two-fifths each) and Amos Densmore (one-fifth; Amos sold his share to Yost in the northern autumn of 1875). However, the royalties due to The Type Writer Company were used, in part, to pay off massive debts to Remington and debts and royalties to Clough.
Basically, this Clough-Jenne patent covers the factory-improved Sholes & Glidden. It's the second and last stage of development of the Sholes & Glidden and the first of the Remington. Technically, it represents a significant advance on the patents issued to Christopher Latham Sholes, who, to be fair, was no more than an unqualified engineer and an amateur inventor. The Clough-Jenne patent is the work of two men who had had considerable professional experience working with, designing and making machines. Jenne had been with Remington since 1861, Clough even longer.
From the Clough-Jenne designs the Remington 1 was made, succeeding the Sholes & Glidden in 1876. With the addition of Byron Alden Brooks's shift device in 1878, and the advent that year of the Remington 2, typing in both upper and lower case letters, the typewriter was finally ready for mass production. The rapid boost in sales reflected these technical and production improvements. The sales figures were:
End of 1874 (Sholes & Glidden), 400 typewriters sold.
1876 (Remington 1), 900 typewriters sold
1874-1878 (Remington 2), 4000 sold in total.
1880, 610 typewriters sold
1881, 1170 typewriters sold
1882, 2272 typewriters sold
1883, 3376 typewriters sold
1884, 4000 typewriters sold.
1880-1884, 11,428 typewriters sold in total.
Incredibly, Sholes & Glidden promoter James Densmore acted as attorney for Clough and Jenne for this patent. Densmore and Yost had signed the deal with the Remington company to produce the Sholes & Glidden on March 1, 1873. At that time, Densmore had agreed to pay Remington $10,000 in advance for 1000 machines (the Remingtons could make another 24,000 at their own discretion), as well as a 50 cents a machine royalty to Clough for improvements he had already made. In order to meet these obligations, Densmore had to borrow $3000 - from, all of people, Clough!
Anson Stager of Western Electric gave Densmore another $10,000 for exclusive rights to the typewriter in some western states.
Jefferson Moody Clough was born on November 29, 1829, at Gerry, New York. He became known as "one of the foremost mechanical experts of his time". He was superintendent of the Remington Arms Company at the time the Sholes & Glidden deal was signed. This deal also allowed Clough to collect royalties from both the Yost and Hammond typewriters. He was"paid handsomely for this service".
Clough also invented the first practical cotton-gin, which brought cotton within the reach of all classes of people, and fire arms. After leaving Remington he was superintendent of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in New Haven, Connecticut, "at a very large salary". One profile says he "was offered at one time a large sum of money by the Chinese government to undertake the building of fire arms in China, but this he did not accept".
In 1904 Clough built and perfected the Clough Mauser Gun, which was bought out for the purpose of preventing its manufacture. As a result of this and his typewriter royalties, Clough died a very wealthy man on January 16, 1908, at Belchertown, Massachusetts.
William McKendree Jenne, who came to be regarded as "The Father of the Writing Machine", was born on January 14, 1837, in Lenox, a little town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. He worked for Remington for 57 years, starting in 1861. It has been written that Jenne was the "central figure in the history of the mechanical development of the typewriter and was in personal charge of its manufacture for more than three decades".
Jenne retired from Remington on December 1, 1904, and died at his home in Ilion, on January 18, 1918, four days after his 81st birthday.
The heavy involvement at the early stages of the development of the typewriter by Clough and Jenne is also mentioned in this item in Typewriter Topics in 1911 regarding the death of Brooks: