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Friday, 18 May 2018

Proper Post Posture with Remington Portable Typewriter

Emily Post (1872-1960) was an American author famous for writing about etiquette. Post was born Emily Price in Baltimore. After being educated at home in her early years, Price attended Miss Graham's finishing school in New York. She grew up in a world of grand estates, her life governed by carefully delineated rituals. Price met her husband, Edwin Main Post, a prominent banker, at a ball in a Fifth Avenue mansion. Following their wedding in 1892 and a honeymoon tour of Europe, they lived in New York's Washington Square. They also had a country cottage, named "Emily Post Cottage", in Tuxedo Park. Emily divorced  Post in 1905 because of his affairs with chorus girls and fledgling actresses. She produced newspaper articles on architecture and interior design, as well as stories and serials for magazines including Harper's, Scribner's and The Century. She published her first etiquette book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home in 1922. It became a best-seller. After 1931, Post spoke on radio programs and wrote a column on good taste for the Bell Syndicate; it appeared daily in some 200 newspapers. Her books had recurring characters, the Toploftys, the Eminents, the Richan Vulgars, the Gildings and the Kindharts. In 1946, Post founded The Emily Post Institute, which continues her work. She died in 1960 in her New York City apartment at the age of 87. 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

AI and Typewriters (Well, EI Anyway)

Artificial intelligence and typewriters? Well, not quite, but "electronic intelligence" was added to the IBM electric in 1956 - at least for tabulation. IBM called it "The first electronic typewriter". "[It] 'reads' business forms and does all the tabulation setting for the typist electronically," the company announced on September 14, 1956 - the same year that the field of AI research was born in a workshop at Dartmouth College.
IBM president Thomas J. Watson proudly exhibited the electronic typewriter at IBM's New York headquarters, as part of what he described as "the greatest new product day in the history of IBM and, I believe, in the history of the office equipment industry."
Watson added that the new electronic tab setter on the IBM electric typewriter will be "a tremendous time and work saver to every typist who works with prepared business forms and documents."
The company explained, "An electronic 'reading' device has been added to the IBM electric typewriter so that typists will no longer have to set tabulating stops while filling in the hundreds of different varieties of forms that are used every day in a business office. Business forms will be printed with vertical lines of electrically-conductive ink associated with each blank fill-in area for which the typist would normally set the tab. These lines, in effect, program the typewriter. No matter what variety of form the typist rolls into the machine, the tabs will be automatically set. All the typist need do is operate the tab key, and the machine, 'reading' the lines on the form, will position the carriage before the next fill-in area."
The sales manager of IBM's Electric Typewriter Division, Henry W. Reis Jr, said "this historic application of electronics to office machines opens many dramatic possibilities. This marriage of electronics to the typewriter promises to be a most fruitful one. Since IBM introduced the first electric typewriter to the business world 23 years ago, many advances have been made in all phases of typewriter engineering, but they are merely mileposts along the road to making the origination of letters and documents easier and faster. Our endowing the typewriter with an 'electronic intelligence' is just one of the many strides we will make as we continue to incorporate scientific developments into the typewriter of the future."
The cost of the machine? A very steep $520 ($4783 in today's money).
The advertisement at the top of this post appeared in The New Yorker on November 3, 1956. The day before, a 30-page supplement called "Open House Edition" was published in The Kingston Daily Freeman, marking IBM's arrival in Kingston, Ulster County, New York's first capital, 91 miles north of New York City. The supplement included this article:
The man largely responsible for the invention was Thurston Homer Toeppen, a University of Michigan graduate who been appointed technical assistant at the IBM electric typewriter engineering laboratory in Poughkeepsie the previous year. Toeppen was born in Chicago on October 11, 1915, and spent time in California before graduating from Michigan in 1938. He moved to New York to be assistant manager of a printing company but later became an inventor and mechanical designer. He joined IBM in 1954 and had a large number of typewriter patents to his name. Toeppen later went to work for Friden Inc in Rochester, again on typewriters. He moved to Tucson in 1997 and died at the hospice Casa de la Luz, on September 25, 2007, aged 91.
Machine testing at Kingston, 1956
 The man in charge of the IBM Selectric development

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

RIP Tom Wolfe (1930-2018)

Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr was an American author and journalist widely known for his association with New Journalism, a style of news writing and journalism developed in the 1960s and 1970s that incorporated literary techniques. Wolfe began his career as a regional newspaper reporter in the 1950s, achieving national prominence in the 1960s following the publication of such best-selling books as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (a highly experimental account of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters) and two collections of articles and essays, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. Wolfe was born on March 2, 1930, in Richmond, Virginia, and died in Manhattan on May 14, 2018, at the age of 88.
In 1956 Wolfe became a reporter for the Springfield Union in Springfield, Massachusetts. Three years later he was hired by The Washington Post. He won an award from The Newspaper Guild for foreign reporting in Cuba in 1961 and also won the Guild's award for humor. While there, Wolfe experimented with fiction-writing techniques in feature stories. In 1962, Wolfe left Washington DC for New York City, taking a position with the New York Herald Tribune as a general assignment reporter and feature writer. During the 1962 New York City newspaper strike, Wolfe approached Esquire magazine about an article on the hot rod and custom car culture of Southern California. He struggled with the article until his editor, Byron Dobell, suggested that Wolfe send him his notes so they could piece the story together. The evening before the deadline, he typed a letter to Dobell explaining what he wanted to say on the subject, ignoring all journalistic conventions. Dobell's response was to remove the salutation "Dear Byron" from the top of the letter and publish it intact as reportage. The result, published in 1963, was "There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby." The article was widely discussed - loved by some, hated by others. Its notoriety helped Wolfe gain publication of his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, a collection of his writings from the Herald-Tribune, Esquire and other publications.
This was what Wolfe called New Journalism, in which some journalists and essayists experimented with a variety of literary techniques, mixing them with the traditional ideal of dispassionate, even-handed reporting. Wolfe experimented with four literary devices not normally associated with feature writing: scene-by-scene construction, extensive dialogue, multiple points of view, and detailed description of individuals' status-life symbols (the material choices people make) in writing this stylized form of journalism. He later referred to this style as literary journalism. Of the use of status symbols, Wolfe has said, "I think every living moment of a human being’s life, unless the person is starving or in immediate danger of death in some other way, is controlled by a concern for status."

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Editor Harvey Kurtzman, who claimed the image of Alfred E. Neuman for MAD magazine in 1954
Alfred E. Neuman was named by MAD's second editor, Al Feldstein, in 1956
Why did I wake up this morning thinking of Alfred E. Neuman? It took me a while to work it out, but then ...
Australia, a constitutional monarchy ruled by a 92-year-old great-grandmother of German descent, who lives in London (which is a very, very long way from Canberra), is in another one of its mindless frenzies about a wedding to which no Australian has been invited. This one will take place at a Norman castle in Berkshire, England, on Saturday. At least I'm a direct descendant of the Normans, which the couple getting married are not. But the apron strings of old Mother England are still proving too tough to cut.
The wedding is between a fellow called Harry Wales (sounds like something from John le Carré), the nephew of a lady who came to one of my own weddings (as plain Jane) and a Los Angeles divorcee called Meghan Markle, who in order to dig her mits into the mostly ill-gotten imperial gains had to be baptised into the Church of England, take out British citizenship and virtually disown her own father. If this seems strangely familiar, think very strange and Wallis Simpson, except blow-hard Bessie was from Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, and was twice divorced.
It is, as I say, a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world.
What most of those who are getting their knickers in a twist about Saturday's wedding don't realise, however, is that Harry Wales is the son of Alfred E. Neuman. Well, to be fair, since Alfred E. Neuman doesn't actually exist, the inspiration for Alfred E. Neuman. Yes, in 1958, when Harry's alleged dad, a chap called Charlie Windsor, was nine, readers of MAD magazine and Marie Claire realised that Charlie and Alfred were identical, and wrote to MAD expressing their discovery.
 Shortly thereafter, an angry letter under a Buckingham Palace letterhead arrived at the MAD offices: "Dear Sirs, No it isn't a bit - not the least little bit like me. So jolly well stow it! See! Charles, P." The letter was authenticated as having been written on triple-cream laid royal stationery bearing an official copper-engraved crest. The postmark indicated it had been mailed from a post office within a short walking distance of Buckingham Palace.
MAD writer and artist Wally Wood covering a "royal wedding". What I think of it is below:

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Typing Lady of the Lines


Today's Google Doodle features Maria Reiche Grosse-Neumann, the "Lady of the Lines", a German mathematician, scientist, archaeologist and technical translator who revealed the significance of the mysterious Peruvian Nazca Lines.
In the Maria Reiche Museum in Provincia de Nazca, Peru, there is a wax figure of Maria at her typewriter.

Maria was born into a middle-class family in Dresden on May 15, 1903, and studied mathematics, astronomy, geography and foreign languages at the Dresden Technical University. She spoke five languages. In 1932 she worked as governess for the children of a German consul in Cusco, the ancient Inca capital in the south of PeruIt was then that she first began to explore the Andes and the high desert plains, which made a lasting impression on her. In 1934 she moved to Lima to teach German. 
The mysterious lines in the plains of the desert around Nazca, some 250 miles (400km) south of Lima, were first discovered in the late 1920s by the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Maj'ia Xesspe. Maria's interest in them began in 1940, after Maria met Clorinda Caller Iberico at the National University of San Marcos in Lima. She typed scientific translations from German and English for the Chair of Anthropology, dictated by Dr Julio C. Tello and Clorinda.
She became an assistant to the American Paul Kosok, an historian from Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, and the two began to map and assess the lines for their relation to astronomical events. Maria developed the theory that the lines formed a large celestial calendar, one representing the constellations of the southern hemisphere. After Kosok left in 1948, she continued the work of mapping the area. She used her background as a mathematician to analyse how the Nazca may have created such huge figures. She found these to have a mathematical precision that was highly sophisticated. Maria published her theories in the book The Mystery on the Desert (1949), which in 1993 was followed by Contributions to Geometry and Astronomy in Ancient Peru, and the following year UNESCO declared the Nazca lines part of the patrimony of humanity. Maria described the site, which covers more than 225 square miles (365sq km), as "a huge blackboard where giant hands have drawn clear and precise geometric designs". She dismissed the theories of Eric von Daniken that they must have been some kind of sign to extra-terrestrials, saying it as an insult to the engineering capacities of the ancient inhabitants of Peru. 
Maria died of ovarian cancer on June 8, 1998, in an Air Force Hospital in Lima.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Hermann-Paul's 'Little Typewriters': What Did He See?

The prints, drawings and paintings of French artist Hermann-Paul (René Georges Hermann-Paul, 1864-1940) are generally quite realistic, the more so because he produced work in the "intimiste" style, that school of impressionist painting in France whose painters portrayed everyday, usually domestic,
scenes. The seemingly derisive term was coined by Édouard Vuillard. Still, it's difficult to work out what typewriters Hermann-Paul saw when he produced "Les petites machines à écrire ("Little Typewriters"), one of his earliest known published works. The three-colour lithograph on wove paper (paper made on a wire-gauze mesh so as to have a uniform unlined surface; some sources vellum) is 22½ inches by almost 17 inches (57.3cm x 42.9cm) and the original is in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. "Little Typewriters" appeared in L'Album des peintres-graveurs ("painter-engraver"), printed by Auguste Clot and published by Ambroise Vollard in 1896. The cover is by George Auriol, the French type and graphic designer. Given the year of publication, whatever the typewriters are they're not Juniors or Bennetts, as the tiny keyboards might suggest, but perhaps something like "reconstructed" or "re-construed" Bar-Locks or even Blickensderfers?
The museum says "Little Typewriters" is Japonism, a style first described by French art critic and collector Philippe Burty in 1872, from the French Japonisme, referring to a Japanese influence on European art, especially in impressionism. But Hermann-Paul (self-portrait, left) is also known to have been influenced by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Peintre-graveur distinguishes between printmakers, whether working in engraving, etching or woodcut, who designed images with the primary purpose of producing a print, and those who essentially copied in a print medium a composition by another, to produce what is known as a "reproductive print", or who produced only essentially non-artistic work in print form, such as maps.
Hermann-Paul drew on a stone with lithographic crayon. After the material was fixed to the stone, he washed the whole thing with water. The greasy image repelled the water which dampened the bare stone. Then he would apply printers ink to the stone. Since water repels grease, the ink sat only on the image area. After the stone was inked, Hermann-Paul laid paper on the stone and applied pressure with a roller. He repeated the process for multiple colors. Hermann-Paul was an artist of considerable scope. He was a well-known illustrator whose work appeared in numerous newspapers and periodicals. His fine art was displayed in gallery exhibitions alongside Vuillard, Henri Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. Early works were noted for their satiric characterizations of the foibles of French society. His points were made with simple caricature. Hermann-Paul worked in Ripolin enamel paint, watercolors, woodcuts, lithographs, drypoint engraving, oils and ink. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

O. Henry and the 1929 Push of the Remington Noiseless Typewriter

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910) used - if the O.Henry House Museum in San Antonio, Texas, is to be believed - an Oliver typewriter. Why would he not type on a machine which starts with the letter "O"?
Sadly, however, it seems unlikely the museum is being accurate, since though it claims Henry lived in this small cabin in 1895-96, just before his first wife died of TB in Austin, he was actually there in 1885-86, almost a decade before the first Oliver was made. Either way, it was some years before Henry's great comeback, after his release from the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus in 1901, and his move to New York City. From 1902 he began to write some of his finest short stories, including "Springtime Á La Carte", which was published in the collection The Four Million in 1906. (The collection, Henry's second, also included "The Gift of the Magi").
On November 7, 1907, a year after The Four Million came out and he had been reunited with her, Henry married his childhood sweetheart, fellow writer, Sara Lindsey Coleman (1868-1959; the happy couple, below, are on their honeymoon). Could it be that their fortuitous meeting in their native North Carolina, inspired "Springtime Á La Carte", in which the protagonist is called Sarah and her beau's name starts with "W", and the young couple get back together through what Remington would call "the one and only lucky typewriter mistake"?  
Whatever, Remington probably thought the image it used with a full-page advertisement in The New Yorker on April 13, 1929, showing a young woman slumped on a typewriter, looked like Sara Lindsey Porter. The advert came in the midst of a heavy magazine campaign to publicise the Remington Noiseless, starting on March 9, 1929. This particular ad, headed "Dearest Walter with Hard-Boiled Egg", is based around O. Henry's story about Sarah and "Springtime Á La Carte" (the story appears in full below).
Other ads in this series were:
March 9, 1929
March 23, 1929
July 20, 1929
August 17, 1929
September 14, 1929


"Springtime Á La Carte"
It was a day in March.
Never, never begin a story this way when you write one. No opening could possibly be worse. It is unimaginative, flat, dry and likely to consist of mere wind. But in this instance it is allowable. For the following paragraph, which should have inaugurated the narrative, is too wildly extravagant and preposterous to be flaunted in the face of the reader without preparation.
Sarah was crying over her bill of fare.
Think of a New York girl shedding tears on the menu card!
To account for this you will be allowed to guess that the lobsters were all out, or that she had sworn ice–cream off during Lent, or that she had ordered onions, or that she had just come from a Hackett matinee. And then, all these theories being wrong, you will please let the story proceed.
The gentleman who announced that the world was an oyster which he with his sword would open made a larger hit than he deserved. It is not difficult to open an oyster with a sword. But did you ever notice any one try to open the terrestrial bivalve with a typewriter? Like to wait for a dozen raw opened that way?
Sarah had managed to pry apart the shells with her unhandy weapon far enough to nibble a wee bit at the cold and clammy world within. She knew no more shorthand than if she had been a graduate in stenography just let slip upon the world by a business college. So, not being able to stenog, she could not enter that bright galaxy of office talent. She was a free–lance typewriter and canvassed for odd jobs of copying.
The most brilliant and crowning feat of Sarah's battle with the world was the deal she made with Schulenberg's Home Restaurant. The restaurant was next door to the old red brick in which she hall–roomed. One evening after dining at Schulenberg's 40–cent, five–course table d'hôte (served as fast as you throw the five baseballs at the coloured gentleman's head) Sarah took away with her the bill of fare. It was written in an almost unreadable script neither English nor German, and so arranged that if you were not careful you began with a toothpick and rice pudding and ended with soup and the day of the week.
The next day Sarah showed Schulenberg a neat card on which the menu was beautifully typewritten with the viands temptingly marshalled under their right and proper heads from "hors d'oeuvre" to "not responsible for overcoats and umbrellas."
Schulenberg became a naturalised citizen on the spot. Before Sarah left him she had him willingly committed to an agreement. She was to furnish typewritten bills of fare for the twenty–one tables in the restaurant—a new bill for each day's dinner, and new ones for breakfast and lunch as often as changes occurred in the food or as neatness required.
In return for this Schulenberg was to send three meals per diem to Sarah's hall room by a waiter—an obsequious one if possible—and furnish her each afternoon with a pencil draft of what Fate had in store for Schulenberg's customers on the morrow.
Mutual satisfaction resulted from the agreement. Schulenberg's patrons now knew what the food they ate was called even if its nature sometimes puzzled them. And Sarah had food during a cold, dull winter, which was the main thing with her.
And then the almanac lied, and said that spring had come. Spring comes when it comes. The frozen snows of January still lay like adamant in the crosstown streets. The hand–organs still played "In the Good Old Summertime," with their December vivacity and expression. Men began to make thirty–day notes to buy Easter dresses. Janitors shut off steam. And when these things happen one may know that the city is still in the clutches of winter.
One afternoon Sarah shivered in her elegant hall bedroom; "house heated; scrupulously clean; conveniences; seen to be appreciated." She had no work to do except Schulenberg's menu cards. Sarah sat in her squeaky willow rocker, and looked out the window. The calendar on the wall kept crying to her: "Springtime is here, Sarah—springtime is here, I tell you. Look at me, Sarah, my figures show it. You've got a neat figure yourself, Sarah—a—nice springtime figure—why do you look out the window so sadly?"
Sarah's room was at the back of the house. Looking out the window she could see the windowless rear brick wall of the box factory on the next street. But the wall was clearest crystal; and Sarah was looking down a grassy lane shaded with cherry trees and elms and bordered with raspberry bushes and Cherokee roses.
Spring's real harbingers are too subtle for the eye and ear. Some must have the flowering crocus, the wood–starring dogwood, the voice of bluebird—even so gross a reminder as the farewell handshake of the retiring buckwheat and oyster before they can welcome the Lady in Green to their dull bosoms. But to old earth's choicest kin there come straight, sweet messages from his newest bride, telling them they shall be no stepchildren unless they choose to be.
On the previous summer Sarah had gone into the country and loved a farmer.
(In writing your story never hark back thus. It is bad art, and cripples interest. Let it march, march.)
Sarah stayed two weeks at Sunnybrook Farm. There she learned to love old Farmer Franklin's son Walter. Farmers have been loved and wedded and turned out to grass in less time. But young Walter Franklin was a modern agriculturist. He had a telephone in his cow house, and he could figure up exactly what effect next year's Canada wheat crop would have on potatoes planted in the dark of the moon.
It was in this shaded and raspberried lane that Walter had wooed and won her. And together they had sat and woven a crown of dandelions for her hair. He had immoderately praised the effect of the yellow blossoms against her brown tresses; and she had left the chaplet there, and walked back to the house swinging her straw sailor in her hands.
They were to marry in the spring—at the very first signs of spring, Walter said. And Sarah came back to the city to pound her typewriter.
A knock at the door dispelled Sarah's visions of that happy day. A waiter had brought the rough pencil draft of the Home Restaurant's next day fare in old Schulenberg's angular hand.
Sarah sat down to her typewriter and slipped a card between the rollers. She was a nimble worker. Generally in an hour and a half the twenty–one menu cards were written and ready.
To–day there were more changes on the bill of fare than usual. The soups were lighter; pork was eliminated from the entrées, figuring only with Russian turnips among the roasts. The gracious spirit of spring pervaded the entire menu. Lamb, that lately capered on the greening hillsides, was becoming exploited with the sauce that commemorated its gambols. The song of the oyster, though not silenced, was dimuendo con amore. The frying–pan seemed to be held, inactive, behind the beneficent bars of the broiler. The pie list swelled; the richer puddings had vanished; the sausage, with his drapery wrapped about him, barely lingered in a pleasant thanatopsis with the buckwheats and the sweet but doomed maple.
Sarah's fingers danced like midgets above a summer stream. Down through the courses she worked, giving each item its position according to its length with an accurate eye. Just above the desserts came the list of vegetables. Carrots and peas, asparagus on toast, the perennial tomatoes and corn and succotash, lima beans, cabbage—and then—
Sarah was crying over her bill of fare. Tears from the depths of some divine despair rose in her heart and gathered to her eyes. Down went her head on the little typewriter stand; and the keyboard rattled a dry accompaniment to her moist sobs.
For she had received no letter from Walter in two weeks, and the next item on the bill of fare was dandelions—dandelions with some kind of egg—but bother the egg!—dandelions, with whose golden blooms Walter had crowned her his queen of love and future bride—dandelions, the harbingers of spring, her sorrow's crown of sorrow—reminder of her happiest days.
Madam, I dare you to smile until you suffer this test: Let the Marechal Niel roses that Percy brought you on the night you gave him your heart be served as a salad with French dressing before your eyes at a Schulenberg table d'hôte. Had Juliet so seen her love tokens dishonoured the sooner would she have sought the lethean herbs of the good apothecary.
But what a witch is Spring! Into the great cold city of stone and iron a message had to be sent. There was none to convey it but the little hardy courier of the fields with his rough green coat and modest air. He is a true soldier of fortune, this dent–de–lion—this lion's tooth, as the French chefs call him. Flowered, he will assist at love–making, wreathed in my lady's nut–brown hair; young and callow and unblossomed, he goes into the boiling pot and delivers the word of his sovereign mistress.
By and by Sarah forced back her tears. The cards must be written. But, still in a faint, golden glow from her dandeleonine dream, she fingered the typewriter keys absently for a little while, with her mind and heart in the meadow lane with her young farmer. But soon she came swiftly back to the rock–bound lanes of Manhattan, and the typewriter began to rattle and jump like a strike–breaker's motor car.
At 6 o'clock the waiter brought her dinner and carried away the typewritten bill of fare. When Sarah ate she set aside, with a sigh, the dish of dandelions with its crowning ovarious accompaniment. As this dark mass had been transformed from a bright and love–indorsed flower to be an ignominious vegetable, so had her summer hopes wilted and perished. Love may, as Shakespeare said, feed on itself: but Sarah could not bring herself to eat the dandelions that had graced, as ornaments, the first spiritual banquet of her heart's true affection.
At 7:30 the couple in the next room began to quarrel: the man in the room above sought for A on his flute; the gas went a little lower; three coal wagons started to unload—the only sound of which the phonograph is jealous; cats on the back fences slowly retreated toward Mukden. By these signs Sarah knew that it was time for her to read. She got out "The Cloister and the Hearth," the best non–selling book of the month, settled her feet on her trunk, and began to wander with Gerard.
The front door bell rang. The landlady answered it. Sarah left Gerard and Denys treed by a bear and listened. Oh, yes; you would, just as she did!
And then a strong voice was heard in the hall below, and Sarah jumped for her door, leaving the book on the floor and the first round easily the bear's. You have guessed it. She reached the top of the stairs just as her farmer came up, three at a jump, and reaped and garnered her, with nothing left for the gleaners.
"Why haven't you written—oh, why?" cried Sarah.
"New York is a pretty large town," said Walter Franklin. "I came in a week ago to your old address. I found that you went away on a Thursday. That consoled some; it eliminated the possible Friday bad luck. But it didn't prevent my hunting for you with police and otherwise ever since!
"I wrote!" said Sarah, vehemently.
"Never got it!"
"Then how did you find me?"
The young farmer smiled a springtime smile.
"I dropped into that Home Restaurant next door this evening," said he. "I don't care who knows it; I like a dish of some kind of greens at this time of the year. I ran my eye down that nice typewritten bill of fare looking for something in that line. When I got below cabbage I turned my chair over and hollered for the proprietor. He told me where you lived."
"I remember," sighed Sarah, happily. "That was dandelions below cabbage."
"I'd know that cranky capital W 'way above the line that your typewriter makes anywhere in the world," said Franklin.
"Why, there's no W in dandelions," said Sarah, in surprise.
The young man drew the bill of fare from his pocket, and pointed to a line.
Sarah recognised the first card she had typewritten that afternoon. There was still the rayed splotch in the upper right–hand corner where a tear had fallen. But over the spot where one should have read the name of the meadow plant, the clinging memory of their golden blossoms had allowed her fingers to strike strange keys.
Between the red cabbage and the stuffed green peppers was the item:
"DEAREST WALTER, WITH HARD–BOILED EGG."

Friday, 11 May 2018

Omaha's Adam Clarke Van Sant and His Revolutionary 'Van Sant System of Touch Typewriting'

The Van Sant System of Touch Typewriting was introduced by Clarke Van Sant at the third annual United States Commercial Teachers' Federation convention at the Metropolitan Business College in Chicago on December 28, 1898. Penman’s Art Journal in February 1901 described the occasion thus: " ... a polished, genteel, suave, middle-aged gentleman of medium height, who, when called upon to read a paper and demonstrate the practicability of methods employed in his work, electrified the body of shorthand teachers. That man was A.C. Van Sant, and that hour witnessed the birth of the great movement toward introducing the teaching of touch operating on the typewriter in the various schools. To be sure, many had taught touch typewriting long before this, but not many knew of it. There were no doubt many operators who could handle a machine without looking at the keyboard. Since December,’98, nothing has been so energetically discussed as has this method of operating the machine, and to the subject of the sketch [Van Sant] more than to any one else is due the popularity of the idea."
For almost six decades, from 1899 until at least 1957, a wide range of typewriter manufacturers paid for the rights to use the Van Sant System of Touch Typewriting. Notable among them were Oliver, Smith Premier, Monarch, Fox, Wellington-EmpireL.C. Smith and Corona, Remington, Underwood and Royal - all of which, at one time or another, offered instruction booklets describing the Van Sant System to purchasers of their typewriters. The system was the work of New Jersey-born dentist-turned-stenographer and Omaha, Nebraska, business college operator Adam Clarke Van Sant, who came to be regarded as "the father of improved touch typewriting".
October 27, 1918
By September 1900, more than 40,000 booklets had been sold, and had reached such far-flung places as Yokohama, Valletta in Malta ("an island in the Mediterranean sea" the Omaha Daily Bee felt it necessary to explain) and 100 alone to Melbourne, Australia. Sure enough, in early June 1901, Betty Caroline Leworthy (1877-1962, right), the New Zealand-born Remington Typewriter Agency proprietor in Adelaide, South Australia, announced she had adopted the "new" system. Across on the other side of the world - and much closer to Omaha - The Star in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, was still referring to the Van Sant system as "new" when publicising the Reynoldsville Business College. "By this method," The Star said, "students are taught the location of the keys by touch, thus enabling them to acquire great speed and accuracy in transcribing their notes."
During this period Van Sant had his own typewriting star, Washington County, Maryland-born Marian Reichardt (1883-), the daughter of the leader of the 22nd US Regular Infantry Band, Emil Reichardt, later a New York music teacher. Marian was, according to the Waterloo, Iowa, Courier, "a dainty little damsel of attractive manners and becoming modesty". She grew up in Omaha, became one of Van Sant's earliest students, practised three hours a day for eight months at Van Sant's college, and emerged with an eight-fingered speed of 75 words a minute, which she soon raised to 93. That was sufficiently impressive for Marian to get a position with Smith Premier in Syracuse - at double the pay of any of the workers who built the Alexander Timothy Brown-designed typewriter (she was at the time easily the highest paid typist in the US). With speed typing as a full-time job, Marian eventually picked up her highest rate to 164 words a minute. In April 1900 Smith Premier sent Marian to the Paris World's Fair, the Exposition Universelle which doubled as that year's Olympic Games, to demonstrate her proficiency with the double keyboard machine using the Van Sant system. Marian's typing won Smith Premier the Diploma of Honour, the exposition's top typewriter award, heading off Remington. Upon her return to the US, Marian spent the next five years touring  the country giving typewriter exhibitions
at schools and Brown's Business Colleges for Smith Premier, including at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, the Buffalo World's Fair ("her eyes are as keen as they are pretty" said the Buffalo Evening News). The characters on her keyboard were blanked out, so she typed from notes or dictation without looking at the machine. Marian was a speed merchant, rather than an endurance typist like the later Underwood world champions. In one notable burst, in Bloomington, Illinois, on December 12, 1901, she typed 250 words in 2½ minutes (still way behind Canadian John Arthur Shields's world record of 222 words in one minute in 1904, or Charles H. McGurrin's earlier 212 wpm on a Fay-Sho). Marian, also an accomplished pianist, got a bit naughty over the years, and in Indianapolis in September 1904, after belting out 160 words in 59 seconds, called her typing "piano style" instead of touch. Happily for her, "Professor" Van Sant was well out of earshot at the time. (That same month Marian matched her 160 wpm record in Dayton, Ohio.)
By the end 1913, Australia had its own Van Sant typewriting star in the form of Selma Madeline Lundqvist (1895-1987), a Glebe-born product of the Stott and Underwood Business School in Sydney, which had adopted the Van Sant system in 1909. Lundqvist had trained under the system since 1910 and in Sydney on December 13, 1913, claimed a world record under amateur championship conditions of 85 words a minute over 30 minutes. The Sydney Sun said she looked "strong and determined enough to be a match for Johnny Summers [the British welterweight boxer]". Lundqvist strengthened her arms and wrists with club-swinging and using exercises outlined by Eugen Sandow (real name Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, 1867-1925), the pioneering German known as the "father of modern bodybuilding". It was proposed that Lundqvist and her sister, Vera Adeline Lundqvist, another Van Sant trainee, should go to the US to take on world champions Margaret Benedict Owen (1893-1952), Bessie Friedman (1895-) and Florence Wilson, members of Charles E. Smith's Underwood professional speed team. But the outbreak of World War I in 1914 put paid to those plans.
Selma Lundqvist
Stott and Underwood boasted that Lundqvist's 85 wpm was three words a minute better than the great Rose Louisa Fritz's record, also set on an Underwood. One difference was that while Fritz's highest speeds were achieved while she was blindfolded, Lundqvist typed with a cover placed six inches above the keyboard. Under these conditions, perhaps Lundqvist's achievement was considered the half-hour amateur record. Inter-continental communications being what they were back then, Stott and Underwood may have failed to grasp that while Fritz had achieved 82 wpm to take out the American championship at Madison Square Garden in November 1906, she had reached 87 wpm to win the world title in October 1907, a figure she matched to retain the championship the following year. By 1913 the world professional record was up to 125 wpm, set by Owen. Indeed, Fritz's highest 30-minute speed was 97, set in 1907 (in the hour-long world championships, it was 95 wpm in 1909). As well, none of Fritz's achievements were attributed to the Van Sant system. At Underwood, Fritz was coached by Smith,  and later Fritz developed her own typing system with stenographer and psychologist Edward Henry Eldridge.
Lundqvist died in Kogarah, Sydney, aged 92. She, like Reichardt, never married. Both continued to use their typing skills for a livelihood well into an advanced age.
Van Sant's system, described as having "revolutionised the typewriting of the world" (well, it had reached as far as Valletta) was certainly well established by 1912, when this advertisement appeared on page one of The Typewriter World:
Given that by then hundreds of thousands of typewriter owners and users had seen the "Van Sant System of Touch Typewriting System", it would seem surprising that so little is known about the man who called himself "Professor Van Sant". Who was this man? Well, he most definitely wasn't "Cuspus" Von Sant, so called by Mavis Beacon in "her" many typing instruction books. But, then, there's no such person was Mavis Beacon, either (the face on the cover belongs to Haitian-born Renée L'Espérance), so we don't really know who to blame for this nonsense. One might assume that the authors of Mavis Beacon manuals, whoever they may be, couldn't find out who A.C. Von Sant was, so they simply made up a name for him. But "Cuspus"? Bad enough to be confined to the Mavis Beacon books, but "her" false lead has sadly been taken up by touch typing history researchers across the world (including Hong Kong, which isn't "an island in the Mediterranean sea"). Could it be, as far-fetched as it seems, that the nincompoops who write the Mavis Beacon books got themselves confused with J.E. Gustus, the Brown's Business College superintendent who accompanied Marian Reinhardt on some of her demonstration tours and also ran his own business school?
At least "Mavis Beacon", whoever she is, is fairly accurate in saying, "The fingering taught today is due to the work of Cuspus Van Sant. This typing teacher and student of psychology [he was actually a dentist] understood that the mind works better when learning rules that are free from exceptions. One afternoon while fixing the clock in his typing classroom, Van Sant came upon the idea of assigning each key to a finger. To achieve this, though, he realised he would have to assign more than one key to some fingers. As the index fingers were considered the strongest, Van Sant gave each of these double duty. His text on typewriting was published three months later. We base our modern fingering method on Van Sant’s philosophy. He standardised how we teach keyboarding today." 
The New Yorker, October 15, 1927
Adam Clarke Van Sant was not Cuspus but known as Clarke Van Sant. He was born at Egg Harbor Township, Gloucester, New Jersey, on July 4, 1832, and grew up in Rock Island, Illinois. His family was of Dutch descent, but had been in the New World since the early 18th Century and had taken a prominent part in the American War of the Independence (1775-83). A.C. Van Sant's line settled at Bass River, later Gretna, Burlington County, New Jersey, in 1790. A.C Van Sant was a member of a third generation of shipwrights, seafarers and river boatmen. His grandfather built the first boat constructed at Newport News and his father, John Wesley Van Sant (1810-1902), built steamboats in Rock Island. Another of John Wesley's sons, A.C.'s younger brother Samuel Rinnah Van Sant (right, 1844-1936) was also a shipbuilder, specialising in raft boats. He served in the Minnesota House of Representatives and as the 15th Governor of Minnesota, and was commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1909-10. On one occasion, Smith Premier brought the brothers and father together in Rock Island, while Marian Reichardt was giving one of her many typing demonstrations there.
The Van Sant family. Clarke Van Sant is seated left beside his father John Wesley Van Sant. Sam is at the middle back.
1928
At 14, in the spring of 1846, A. C. Van Sant was a cabin boy under Captain Daniel Smith Harris on the War Eagle, one of the fastest early day boats on the Upper Mississippi River. He tried the tinner’s trade but boats kept calling him back to the river. Eventually, in 1860, he became a dentist in Princeton, New Jersey. His first true calling, however, was as a stenographer. Even before dentistry, he had taken up shorthand in 1849 and over the next 60 years was "closely identified with the progress of the art". Van Sant used this skill to occasional reporting for the Chicago Tribune. In the early 1860s he was the official reporter of the Illinois House of Representatives. From there he went to Washington as the private secretary of Owen Lovejoy (1811-1864), the lawyer, Congregational minister, abolitionist and Republican congressman from Illinois. Lovejoy was a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, as a leader of abolitionists in Illinois in assisting runaway slaves.
Van Sant reported the Democratic National Convention which nominated George B. McClellan, who was the opponent of Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Penman’s Art Journal said, "To give a list of the eminent men [Van Sant] has reported would be to name all of the renowned statesmen of the Civil War period."
In 1883 he moved from Chicago to Omaha and in 1890 established the A.C. Van Sant School of Shorthand and Typewriting.
One of Van Sant's more ardent devotees was Rees Edgar Tulloss, (right, 1881-1959), later president of Wittenberg University, the liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio. In 1901 the then 20-year-old Tulloss used the Van Sant system to start his own Touch Typewriting School, first by correspondence from his home town of Leipsic, Ohio, then from 1902 from his dorm room in Myers House and later Phi Kappa Psi House at Wittenberg, while also captaining the football team. Tulloss continued to run the school even while president of the university, from 1920-49.
The article below from Typewriter Topics, 1909
Both Clarke Van Sant and his only surviving daughter Elizabeth (1865-1950, story above) became heavily involved with promoting the Munson form of shorthand, a slight revision of Pitman, designed to make it more systematic. This is not connected with the Munson typewriter, but to James Eugene Munson (1835-1906), a New York court stenographer who first presented his system in the Complete Phonographer in 1866. 
Clarke Van Sant died in Omaha on March 30, 1921, aged 88. His ashes are buried in Glendale Cemetery, LeClaire, Iowa.