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Friday, 9 March 2012

Saluting Typewriter Inventor Ruby Eva Padman on International Women's Day

Persisting with what I hope can be maintained over the years - so that it becomes a tradition - today we mark International Women's Day by saluting another Australian female typewriting pioneer.
On this day, March 8, in 1924, 88 years ago today, a 37-year-old Tasmanian spinster, Ruby Eva Padman, of Launceston, ventured into the field of typewriter inventing, a domain almost completely dominated by males for 210 years (to that point).
Ruby filed for a US patent for a "typewriter" - in fact a dating stamp to be attached to an Underwood standard and inked and applied to the paper in much the same way as Lee Spear Burridge designed the inking on his famous Sun No 2.
Ruby wrote, "My invention consists essentially in the combination with a typewriter of a date stamp so arranged as that, on depressing a key, the prearranged date on the stamp is first inked and then printed on the letter, invoice, circular or the like which has previously been placed in position in the typewriter, the date stamp being returned to its normal position on the finger of the operator being lifted from the key."
Ruby was born at Port Sorell in Tasmania (above) on March 28, 1886. After failing to impress anyone with her stamping idea, Ruby spent her final years devoted to the St John's Ambulance, becoming a home nurse and first-aid instructor. She died alone, her parents and siblings having predeceased her, at the family home at 8 Trevallyn Road, Launceston, on February 6, 1944, aged just 57. I tend to think of her as our typewriting Eleanor Rigby.
But I am pleased to say that Ruby's invention was not completely forgotten, and was referenced many years later: In 1977, for a marking apparatus for a stenographic typewriter, by Dennis D. Steiner, of Reno, Nevada; and in 1982, for a marking device for a shorthand machine, by Paul J. Fowler, of Glenview, Illinois, and Frank Chvojcsek, of Chicago, for the Stenograph Corporation of Skokie, 111inois.
Just so you won't be too sad (about Ruby) on this day, I add here some brightening-up images of another young Australian lady who is passionate about typewriters, Kani, who has a blog called K for Kani at
Kani is a student in Melbourne, studying commerce and law and majoring in marketing. She loves vintage things and is a self-confessed hoarder. "I can't bear to throw anything out if I know I can reuse or take it apart and put it together in an alternative way. I love old things and I'm a bit of a greenie."
Of these typewriter fashion shots, taken last September, Kani says, "I really wish that old things like boomboxes, telegrams, typewriters, box brownies, antique telephones and record players never went so 'extinct'. I think it's a little bit sad to throw these historical items out - it's like throwing out a bit of history ... So that's why I like collecting these old things. My parents think I'm crazy, buying second-hand bits and pieces which they had only just chucked out a couple of decades ago."
The first International Women's Day poster


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