UNHERALDED GENIUSES, REALLY SMART THINKERS, MISGUIDED IDEALISTS, CRAZY OPPORTUNISTS, OR JUST PLAIN SILLY PEOPLE WHO WASTED EVERYONE ELSE'S TIME?
This a monthly series devoted to typewriter-related ideas which finished up going absolutely nowhere (or at least they didn't go anywhere to the best of my knowledge. If anyone knows better, please enlighten me.)
No. 4 - THIS MONTH'S PRIZE WINNERS ARE:
CHARLES J. BUCHHEIT
and THEORDORE L. POPP
PAPER END BELL
People do love the nostalgic sound of right margin-warning bells on typewriters. So when is one typewriter bell never enough? Think of those poor souls who between 1874 and 1893 had no choice but to type “blind” – that is, to write without being able to get a clear view of what (and, more to the point, where on a sheet of paper) they were typing.
Yes, what they needed was not just a bell to tell them when the right margin was about to be reached, but another to warn them when the end of the sheet was approaching.
Ergo, on this day in 1886, Charles J. Buchheit, a merchant of Buffalo, New York, and his local patent attorney, Theodore L. Popp, were issued with a patent for an extra typewriter bell.
Their specifications state, “This invention relates more particularly to a device or attachment to be applied to typewriting machines for indicating when the bottom of the page or sheet of paper which is being printed upon approaches the printing line or point at which it receives the impression so closely as to make it necessary to remove the sheet and introduce a new one.
"The object of our invention is to construct a simple alarm device, which is controlled by the movement of the sheet of paper under the platen or roller, and which is automatically actuated, and gives an audible alarm when the bottom of the page or sheet has arrived at the point where another line cannot be properly printed on the sheet.”
Buchheit, born in New York in July 1860, and Popp, born in the Big Apple in 1865, were both of German descent and both were married to Annies. And both, no doubt, heard the sound of cash registers ringing when they came up with this idea.
In 1946, someone came up with another solution for the same problem, as publicised in Popular Science in its April issue of that year:
But what about the deaf? In Modern Mechanix in April 1933, this bright idea was promoted:
Oh, just ...