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Sunday 16 February 2020

Newman Marshman's Kindergarten Typewriter

Newman Marshman's invention of a "kindergarten typewriter" in 1901 got a lot of publicity across the United States, but did it ever go into production? Has anyone out there ever seen one? No model was supplied to the US Patent Office when Marshman applied for a patent for his machine, but stories which appeared in a wide range of American newspapers were accompanied by this illustration of what the typewriter did - or could - look like:
Here is the patent, applied for in May 1900:
And here is the article which was reproduced in many US newspapers:
The concept, of course, is very close to the popular Simplex - already very well established on the market by 1901 (and revised right up to 1949) - and there was indeed an ABC Simplex "kindergarten typewriter":
Newman Russell Marshman (below) did devote some of his inventing to toys, along with one-time partner Lee Spear Burridge (both, by the way, white men; it's "fake news" that they were African-Americans). But in typewriter terms Marshman is best remembered for the 1884 Sun index. His full story can be found elsewhere on this blog. Marshman was born on Broadway, New York, on December 19, 1846 and died penniless in The Bronx on November 2, 1930, aged 83.
It's interesting that Marshman's 1901 patent for the "kindergarten typewriter" was subsequently cited just once, for a 1979 Canon compact printer! Other similar patents were for a 1940 IBM typewriter and one for a variable spacing machine designed by Roswell Reid of West Virginia Newspaper Publishing in Morgantown, not far from our friend Herman Price's Chestnut Ridge typewriter museum. Another Virginian, Charles Crowell, invented a music typewriter in 1911 and George Baker a typewheel machine in 1922. The well-known entrepreneur Harry Bates devised a shorthand machine in 1935.

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