In 1957, the Imperial Typewriter Company of Leicester in England was finally able to perfect and thus demonstrate this “special design of a twin keyboard typewriter”. It was to be “used in the science field [so] reports can be typed on the left keyboard and calculations are made on the right keyboard, as it comes with additional symbols.”
The original concept was for a second (or indeed third) keyboard to employ “different characters, such for example as mathematical or chemical symbols or the characters of a foreign alphabet”. A “common carriage unit [would be] bodily displaceable into operative association with any selected unit”.
Claude Wellington Robert Brumhill had first patented this design in England in 1949, toward the end of his eight-year stint as lead design engineer for Imperial in Leicester. It was the acme of his achievements for Imperial. He had applied for a US patent for the double (and triple) keyboard in 1950 and the patent was issued in 1954.
Brumhill had 10 patents for the Imperial Typewriter Company granted in the US from 1942, one of them (for a ribbon guiding means) on this day (October 24) in 1945. In the latter part of his career, Brumhill worked closely with Arthur Bott Pateman, who succeeded Brumhill as Imperial lead design engineer in 1950. Pateman went on to become managing director and then chairman of the Imperial Typewriter Company.
Three typewriters all in a row
Brumhill was born at St Neots in Huntingdonshire in 1892 and began working as a mechanical engineer and tool maker at Imperial’s Leicester factory in 1910. This was the year Imperial founder Hidalgo Moya tracked down Swedish-born mechanical engineer Eric Julius Pilblad (born Köping, April 12, 1880; died 1963), who was at that time working on a Canadian government contract with the Sutherland Rifle Sight Company in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Pilblad, who had immigrated to the US in October 1900, had apparently had considerable experience working in the typewriter industry in America. In 1911 Pilblad began working alongside Moya in Leicester, and later with an English engineer, Arthur Tomlinson, before returning to the US in 1925. At that point Tomlinson succeeded Pilblad as Imperial lead design engineer, to be succeeded in turn by Brumhill in 1942.
After Moya's return to the US (around 1919), Pilblad and Tomlinson worked under William Arthur Evans (above) as Imperial board chairman until 1933. Tomlinson, Brumhill and Pateman then all worked under Evans' son, Roger Martin Evans (below, 1907-1967), who was Imperial's works director and chief production engineer.
The Brumhill double keyboard invention was not entirely wasted and was referenced a number of times, most notably in 1990 by none other than “The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services”. This was for – and catch your breath before reading on - an “Automatic orientation of predefined chemical structures in conjunction with a computer terminal employs respective protocols corresponding to a system state. The system states can include a chain state, ring state, library state, and retrieve state. Upon orientation, the object is attached according to a specified attachment command to a parent graph. The protocols corresponding to connection of the object to the parent includes rules regarding angles at which the structures can be attached to one another, and another protocol governs rules respecting rotation of the stored object through predetermined angles. Nodes of the object recalled are automatically provided with markers in alphabetic order from the most recently used marker corresponding to a letter of alphabet. Multiple alphabet sequences are used. Specification of position is indicated by inputting the lower case letter of the alphabet corresponding to the location desired. Bonds can be specified between two markers.” And that’s just the title!
A double keyboard, I suppose, might be preferable to this, a situation demonstrated by American actress Barbara Hale in 1956: