Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sholes in 1869 took on as partner a burly, swaggering, salesman character named James Dunsmore. Dunsmore did not have two nickels to rub together, but he had plenty of grit and saw in the typing machine a chance to make a fortune. First, however, he wanted Sholes to improve the crude device, and he imposed on the inventor for a succession of some 50 models---each reflecting some minor improvement---before he had the machine he wanted. At that point, Dunsmore began approaching manufacturers. After an unsuccessful attempt to sell exclusive manufacturing rights to Western Union Company for a reported $50,000, Dunsmore and an associate approached Mr. Philo Remington, president of the Remington Company. -- James M. Utterback: Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation, Harvard Business School Press, Boston (1996).

His name was James Densmore, not Dunsmore. Mr. Densmore in 1869 was successful in oil trading at Pennsylvania, so he had a lot of money at that time. First, Mr. Densmore tried to find customers for Sholes' Type-Writer. In Chicago, he contacted Mr. Edward Payson Porter and then delivered several machines to Porter's Telegraph College as I mentioned before. After the failure at Porter's Telegraph College, Mr. Densmore started to find manufacturers. In New York, he contacted Mr. George Harrington of the American Telegraph Works, but Sholes' Type-Writer was severely criticized by one of Harrington's partners, Mr. Thomas Alva Edison. In St. Louis, Mr. Densmore contacted Mr. Charles Edward Weller to exhibit Sholes' Type-Writer in St. Louis Fair. Again in Chicago, Mr. Densmore contacted Mr. Anson Stager, who was the president of Western Electric Manufacturing, but Western Electric Manufacturing couldn't manufacture the Type-Writer. Then, in Ilion, Mr. Densmore contacted Mr. Philo Remington of E. Remington & Sons (cf. Koichi Yasuoka and Motoko Yasuoka: Myth of QWERTY Keyboard, NTT Publishing, Tokyo (2008)).

Monday, April 27, 2009

I also wrote a second program, NADIST, to calculate the distances between all pairs of letters around the rim of a Sholes and Glidden type basket. The original letter arrangement around the basket was:

Figure by Richard E. Dickerson for NADIST
where * represents a number or a punctuation mark. The lower two rows of the keyboard alternate along the half of the type basket nearest the operator, from left to right, and the upper two keyboard rows alternate in a similar manner around the back rim of the basket. -- Richard E. Dickerson: "Did Sholes and Densmore Know What They Were Doing When They Designed Their Keyboard?", ETCetera, No.6 (February 1989), pp.6-9.

I investigated several Sholes & Glidden Type-Writers, and found that their type baskets are all arranged as shown below (top view). In fact, A is placed next to Q, not next to Z. And Z is in between S and C. Why did Dr. Dickerson make such a mistake?

Sholes & Glidden Type-Writer and its type basket

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Frank R. McGurrin, a young law clerk in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1878 competed with his employer on the office's Model 1 Remington typewriter. ... By the end of the year he was able to type ninety words per minute---still considered an excellent speed now---from new copy without looking at the keyboard. ... In an 1888 contest in Cincinnati, he confronted Louis Traub, an agent for the Caligraph, possibly the best selling of the two-keyboard machines. McGurrin won decisively, achieving ninety-five words per minute from dictation and ninety-eight from copying against Traub's eighty-three and seventy-one. ... McGurrin continued on the exhibition circuit, promoting Remington as he achieved up to 125 words per minute. For all his prowess, McGurrin had no students and published no books. -- Edward Tenner: Our Own Devices, Alfred A. Knopf, New York (2003).

Frank R. McGurrin? Well, R seems wrong for the middle name of Mr. Frank Edward McGurrin. In fact Mr. McGurrin had several students. In 1890, for example, he taught typewriting in his shorthand college at the Progress Building, Salt Lake City (cf. "Practical Shorthand College", The Salt Lake Daily Tribune, Vol.38, No.97 (February 4, 1890), p.4, l.7). And Mr. McGurrin wrote at least one book, titled "Typewriter Speed and How to Acquire It" (J. F. McClain, New York, 1891) with five other leading typists at that time: Miss Mae E. Orr, Mr. Edward James Manning, Miss Emmeline S. Owen, Mr. Thomas W. Osborne, and Mr. George Alexander McBride. In this book Mr. McGurrin mentioned the way how he operated Remington without looking at the keyboard.