Often referred to as the
Hamilton Automatic, the Automatic Typewriter was
patented by Emery M. Hamilton of New York in 1887 and placed on
the market in 1888. It was manufactured almost entirely of
brass and was remarkably small, measuring only 11" wide x 8"
deep x 4" tall. Inside its diminutive
chassis are tiny typebars approximately 1.5" long along with a
circular inkpad inking system. The spacebar is located above
the top row of the keyboard with its name, AUTOMATIC, engraved
in it. It was equipped with 48 keys and typed in
capital letters only. Numbers were located on the right
side of the keyboard, similar to a ten key numerical keyboard on
many modern computer keyboards.
Other noteworthy features include a faceted
platen (a round roller with flat spots uniformly spaced around the
entire roller) to aid in printing characters evenly.
It also included variable spacing, meaning its carriage
advanced further for wider characters and less for narrow
characters. Most typewriters of this era used mono
spacing, meaning each character occupied the same amount of
space across the writing line. This advanced design was intended to
produce work that resembled
Competition was fierce in the
early years of the typewriter industry and sales of the
Automatic did not materialize as planned. The Automatic was withdrawn from
the market in 1891 when stockholders of the company refused to
invest further and the factory was closed. Emery M. Hamilton
was on track to creating a novel and unique typewriter, if not
with the Automatic, possibly with what was to follow.
There is evidence of Hamilton working on other promising typewriter
designs, none of which were formally marketed or have survived.
Approximately three hundred of these charming
typewriters were manufactured. Very few have survived making
the Automatic typewriter a very rare and desirable object.
If you have or know of one, I would like to hear from you.
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