Donald Murray

Telegraphic typewriter

Telegraphic typewriter - Donald Murray

The thing about typewriters in the late 1890s is that they were all so local. The person typing sat in right front of it and the paper came out of it right there, and if they were - for example - a journalist, as was Donald Murray (b. 1865, d. 1945) then that journalist would have to frantically type their story at the keyboard, rip the finished story from the back of the typewriter (with that familiar sound) and run down to the editor's office yelling 'hold the presses'. Not ideal, but at least that worked if everyone was in the same place.

When Murray was working at the Sydney Morning Herald, receiving and filing stories from all over Australia and the world, it got even worse. He'd have to take his finished story to a telegraphist, who would convert it to Morse code, then laboriously tap it out, so someone at the other end would listen, note it down in Morse, and convert it to English, and re-type it up again. Horrifically inefficient.

Simply put, Murray's brainwave was to separate the printing bit of the typewriter so that it could go anywhere, meaning you could type at one end and the remote printer would print out what you'd written. In this way, he got rid of all the work and delays in the middle, including those telegraphists, which is probably why they aren't showing up in my spellchecker anymore.