Blickensderfer, George Canfield

Blickensderfer, George Canfield
SUBJECT AREA: Paper and printing
b. 1850 Erie, Pennsylvania, USA
d. 14 August 1917
American maker of the first successful portable typewriter and the first electric typewriter.
Blickensderfer was educated at the academy in Erie and at Allegheny College. He seems to have followed a business career, and in the course of his travels he became aware of the need for a simple, durable, but portable typewriter. He was in business in Stanford, Connecticut, where he developed but did not patent a number of typewriters, including a machine in which a type wheel could print short words such as "an" and "as" by depressing a single key. In 1889 he set up the Blickensderfer Manufacturing Company to perfect and mass-produce the machine he had in mind. He needed two years to test and perfect the model, and in 1891 work started on the factory that was to manufacture it. On the verge of mass-production in 1893, he produced a few machines for the Chicago World Exhibition in that year. Their success was sensational, and the "Blickensderfer" received the highest accolades from the judges, who hailed it as "extraordinary progress in the art of typewriting". The "Blickensderfer" appeared with successive modifications in the following years: they were durable, lightweight machines, with interchangeable type wheels, and were the first widely-used readily-portable typewriters.
Around 1902 Blickensderfer produced the first electric typewriter. A few electric machines were produced and some were sent to Europe, including England, but they are now very rare. One Blick Electric has been preserved in the Beeching Typewriter Collection in Bournemouth, England.
Further Reading
M.H.Adler, 1973, The Writing Machine, London: Allen \& Unwin.
Historische Burowelt 10 (July 1985):11 (provides brief biographical details in German with an English summary).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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