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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Noiselessly Mesmerising: The Story of the Noiseless Typewriter - Part V

Transition to Remington
One thing its new president, Charles William Colby, did try to do for the Noiseless Typewriter Company was to take its case to various US Senate committees and argue vigorously for its purchase by government departments. But these efforts were all in vain, as Colby was quite firmly told that department secretaries thought the three banks of keys on the Noiseless an outmoded design, and a major drawback to sales and use.
In desperation, Colby tried desperate measures - calling his North American branch managers and executives together in Middletown, Connecticut in January 1922 and setting them the lofty target of a 100 per cent increase in sales from 1921. Among the measures Colby used was to turn a banquet into a "Quaker meeting". 
One of Colby's selling points was that the Noiseless was a design-award winning typewriter:
However, sales didn't rise in 1922-23 to the high degree that Colby had hoped for, and on March 3, 1924, the inevitable happened, when Colby signed off on an acquisition by the Remington Typewriter Company of the Noiseless Typewriter Company and its plant in Middletown, Connecticut.
The end of the line for the Noiseless Noiseless. The Remington Noiseless factory below.
The next year, 1925, Remington launched a Noiseless adaptation of its Standard No 6 typewriter. Apart from the size and shape of the machine, the most noticeable changes were four banks of keys and a rubber platen. Gone was the solid, rigid metal platen so critical to the Noiseless's typing action and its reduction of typing sound:
Upon the launch of the Remington Noiseless, Remington immediately attempted to succeed where Colby had failed, and to do so by circumventing US government department purchasing restrictions by seeking to have the Noiseless reclassified ("this new machine is not standard in any sense"). In the short term, at least, it too failed: 
Nonetheless, Remington was fully committed to its latest acquisition and forged on regardless. George Gould Going, for some years the lead design engineer for Noiseless, stayed on at the Middletown factory to work on the adaptation for Remington. Going remained with Remington to design various modifications over the next 11 years - and also, importantly, to produce a portable adaptation, one that was markedly different from the Wellington Parker Kidder-designed Noiseless portable. The change of ownership and the subsequent design changes brought with them a staggering 367 patents! Remington continued to make the Noiseless right through to January 1960 in the US and, as Richard Polt has rightly pointed out, in Glasgow, Scotland, until early 1963.
The above photos were taken at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney
The following images were very kindly provided by Piotr Trumpiel in London:
Tomorrow: Remington v Underwood


Richard P said...

Great series, very nicely documented.

One correction: according to Remington serial number records, they made their Noiseless #10 as late as 1963 in Hillington, England. (Production slowed to a trickle after 1957, though.)

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you for this Richard. I obviously didn't realise the Noiseless was still being made this late. Hillington is an industrial estate in Glasgow, a city where the denizens would still willingly fight to the death rather than be called English. Remington-Rand laid off its 1100 Scottish workers at Hillington on February 22, 1963. Peter Tytell dated the end of Noiseless production there to May 1963, but the factory had closed by then.