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Shorthand or stenography, the method of writing quickly by using abbreviations, strokes, or symbols, dates back centuries.  A few shorthand machines were constructed in the nineteenth century, but the first to gain a measure of popularity among court reporters was the Stenograph.  Miles Bartholomew, a court reporter from East St. Louis, Illinois, invented the device in 1877, three years after the introduction of Remington’s first typewriter.  The stenograph had ten keys that printed a code of dashes in different positions (standing for different letters) on a 3/8-inch strip of paper.  He received patents from improved models in 1879 and 1884, which were manufactured by his company, the United States Stenograph Corporation.  An advertisement for his machine appeared in the December 15, 1883 issue of Harper’s Weekly.  Despite making some inroads into the court-reporting market, the Stenograph was not generally accepted and Bartholomew’s company folded.

In 1889, George Kerr Anderson received a patent for a shorthand typewriter with fourteen keys using English letters instead of code.  Several keys could be pressed simultaneously in order to print entire syllables or words at once (called the chording method of typing).  An illustrated ad for Anderson’s Shorthand Typewriter was published in the October 1, 1892 issue.  Although the machine gained some attention for reporting the inaugural of President William McKinley in March 1897, the company soon went bankrupt.

Harper's Weekly References

1) December 15, 1883, p. 807, col. 2
illustrated ad, Stenograph

2) October 1, 1892, p. 951, col. 3
illustrated ad, Anderson Shorthand Typewriter

Sources Consulted

“Antique Anderson’s Typewriter.”  Typebar.

“The History of the Shorthand Writing Machine.”  Stenograph Company.

Morton, David.  “Stenography in the Late 19th Century.”  The History of Sound Recording Technology, Research Computing Initiative, Rutgers University.

“Special Purpose Office Typewriters.”  Office

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