On this day in 1872, more than a year before the Sholes and Glidden went into production, Eugene Cadmus, an operator for the United States Telegraph Company on State Street in Washington DC, was granted a patent for a type-writing machine. It was only the fourth patent granted for a type-writing machine after Christopher Latham Sholes' June 23, 1868, patent - the others being a second Sholes patent (July 1868) and one for the Hansen writing ball (April 1872).
Typewriter historian Michael H. Adler discusses this design in his The Writing Machine: A History of the Typewriter (1973), saying the “piano keyboard typewheel machine merely used a variation of the pin barrel principle. A sewing machine treadle beneath the unit kept the barrel revolving.” Below, with a treadle, is the Magneto-Printing dial telegraph machine of the period:
In his 1997 Antique Typewriters: From Creed to QWERTY, Adler added that Cadmus’s design “borrowed heavily from the printing telegraphs of the day.” Below is a late 19th century Washington telegraph office:
Calling himself a “telegraphist”, Cadmus described his design as an improvement in “Typographs, or machines for mechanical printing”.
He said, “It is well known that notes taken by shorthand reporters almost invariably have to be written out in long-hand before they can be of service.
"One object, therefore, of my invention is to enable reporters the more speedily to do this work. This machine will also be of great service to copyists of legal documents and of correspondence.
"It also may be applied in the printing of telegrams after their reception, and of authors' manuscripts before sending them to the printer or publisher. In fact this machine may be used generally where printed matter is preferable to manuscript, by reason of its greater legibility and condensed space.”
Here is Edison's automatic telegraph:
With these objectives, Cadmus was clearly thinking along almost identical lines to Sholes.
Cadmus’s specifications were for “printing upon a sheet of paper by bringing the paper, wrapped upon a cylindrical platen, up against a revolving type-wheel by depressing keys resting on a fulcrum, which raise a hinged frame by means of a bail. This frame contains the platen, and the paper thereon is brought into contact with the type when the inner end of the keys enter into slots in a cylinder that revolves on the same shaft with the type-wheel. This cylinder has its slots in the form of a segment of a circle, so that the keys can remain therein but a limited time — only long enough for the type to make impressions on the paper.”
He said the constructed machine “would have the general appearance of a sewing-machine, and which, as shown in the drawing, is operated by a treadle, but which may be operated by any other motive power”.
Cadmus was born in New York in 1843 and educated at Cazenovia Seminary (above) from 1860.
American novelist and essayist William Clark Styron Jr was born in Newport News, Virginia, on this day in 1925. He died , aged 81, at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on November 1, 2006.
His novels included Lie Down in Darkness (1951), The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) and Sophie's Choice (1979).
Above is David Levine illustration of Styron at a typewriter appeared in the New York Review of Books in October 1967.
In Cross Plains, Texas, today, fans of pulp fiction pioneer Robert E.Howard and members of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association gathered for Robert E. Howard Day.
It was on this day in 1936 that Howard suicided, aged 30, in Cross Plains. Today’s activities included the Robert E. Howard House Museum being open to the public, where his Underwood typewriter is among the displays (above). There will also be a Barbarian Festival and a Conan Movie Festival.
Robert Ervin Howard was born in Peaster, Texas, on January 22, 1906. In his short career, he wrote more than 100 stories for pulp magazines, notably created Conan the Barbarian, and came to be considered the father of the sword and sorcery sub-genre.
On this day in 1979, Marion Robert Morrison died in Los Angeles, aged 72. Marion is better known as John Wayne, born in Winterset, Iowa, on May 26, 1907. Big John is seen above at a Remington with co-star Gail Russell.
The world of early telegraphy looks fascinating from the occasional glimpses I get of it. The technology seems to have been very clever and sophisticated. The e-mail of its day!
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