Teletype Corporation

Teletype Corporation
Teletype Corporation
Industry Communications
Founded 1928
Headquarters Flag of the United States.svg Chicago, Illinois, USA
Products Teleprinter equipment

The Teletype Corporation, a part of American Telephone and Telegraph Company's Western Electric manufacturing arm since 1930, came into being in 1928 when the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt Company changed its name to the name of its trademark equipment.[1] Teletype Corporation, of Skokie, Illinois, was responsible for the research, development and manufacture of data and record communications equipment but it is primarily remembered for the manufacture of electromechanical teleprinters.

Because of the nature of its business, as stated in the corporate charter, Teletype Corporation was allowed a unique mode of operation within Western Electric. It was organized as a separate entity, and contained all the elements necessary for a separate corporation. Teletype's charter permited the sale of equipment to customers outside the AT&T Bell System which explains their need for a separate sales force. The primary customer outside of the Bell System was the United States Government.

The Teletype Corporation continued in this manner until January 8, 1982, the date of settlement of United States v. AT&T, a 1974 United States Department of Justice antitrust suit against AT&T. At that time, Western Electric was fully absorbed into AT&T as AT&T Technologies and the Teletype Corporation became AT&T Teletype. The last vestiges of what had been the Teletype Corporation ceased in 1990, bringing to a close the dedicated teleprinter business.



The Teletype Corporation had its roots in the Morkrum Company. In 1902, electrical engineer Mr. Frank Pearne approached Mr. Joy Morton, head of Morton Salt, seeking a sponsor for Pearne's research into the practicalities of developing a printing telegraph system. Joy Morton needed to determine whether this was worthwhile and so consulted mechanical engineer Charles Krum, who was vice president of the Western Cold Storage Company, which was run by Morton’s brother Mark Morton. Krum was interested in helping Pearne, so space was set up in a laboratory in the attic of Western Cold Storage. Frank Pearne lost interest in the project after a year and left to get involved in teaching. Krum was prepared to continue Pearne’s work, and in August, 1903 a patent was filed for a ‘typebar page printer’.[2] In 1904, Krum filed a patent for a ‘type wheel printing telegraph machine’[3] which was issued in August, 1907.

In 1906, the Morkrum Company was formed with the company name combining the Morton and Krum names and reflects the financial assistance provided by Joy Morton. This is the time when Charles Krum's son, Howard Krum, joined his father in this work. It was Howard who developed and patented the start-stop synchronizing method for code telegraph systems, which made possible the practical teleprinter.[4]

In 1908, a working teleprinter was produced, called the Morkrum Printing Telegraph, which was field tested with the Alton Railroad.

In 1910, the Morkrum Company designed and installed the first commercial teletypewriter system on Postal Telegraph Company lines between Boston and New York City using the "Blue Code Version" of the Morkrum Printing Telegraph.[5][6]

In 1925 the Morkrum Company and the Kleinschmidt Electric Company merged to form the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt Company. In December 1928, the company changed its name to the less cumbersome "Teletype Corporation".

In 1930, the Teletype Corporation was purchased by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company for $30,000,000 in stock and became a subsidiary of the Western Electric Company. While other principals in the Teletype Corporation retired, Howard Krum stayed on as a consultant.

Teleprinter Equipment

Morkrum Company

  • Morkrum Printing Telegraph – This was the first mechanically successful teleprinter, initially used to 1908 for the Alton Railroad trials. A "Blue Code Version" was used in 1910 as a part of the first commercial teleprinter circuit that ran on Postal Telegraph Company lines between Boston and New York City. In 1914, a "Green Code Version" was installed using Western Union Telegraph Company lines for the Associated Press and used to distribute news to competing newspapers in New York City.[7][8]
  • Morkrum Model 11 Tape Printer – The Model 11 Typewheel Tape Printer, at about 45 words-per-minute, was a bit faster the Morkrum Printing Telegraph Blue and Green-Code printers, and was modeled after the European Baudot Telegraph System printer. The Model 11 was a Tape Printer which used gummed paper tape that could be pasted onto a telegram blank.
  • Morkrum Model GPE Perforator – The Morkrum Company Model GPE "Green Code" Perforator was designed about 1913 and a US Patent was filed in 1914.[9] This equipment continued to be produced for the next 50 years.
  • Morkrum Model 12 Typebar Page Printer – This equipment, also known as the Model 12 Page Printer, was the first commercially-viable machine. This printer was produced from 1922 to 1925 under the Morkrum Company name, from 1925 to 1929 under the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt name, and from 1929 to 1943 under Teletype Corp. [10][11] This was the first teleprinter to successfully operate from an airplane.[12]

Kleinschmidt Electric Company

In 1916, Kleinschmidt filed a patent application for a type-bar page printer[13] This printer utilized Baudot code but did not utilize the start-stop syncronization technology that Howard Krum had previously patented. The type-bar printer was intended for use on multiplex circuits, and its printing was controlled from a local segment on a receiving distributor of the sunflower type. In 1919, Kleinschmidt appeared to be concerned chiefly with development of multiplex transmitters for use with this printer.[14]

Western Electric Company

  • 10-A Printing Telegraph – The Western Electric Company made a line of printing telegraph equipment prior to acquiring the Teletype Corporation in 1930. The design for this equipment was provided by the Bell Telephone Laboratories and their predecessor, the W. E. Research and Development Dept. One Western Electric product which was preserved is the 10-A Printer. It was electrically operated, being controlled by relays and powered by magnets. Its printing element was a small typewheel mounted on a vertical axis.[15][16][17][18]

Morkrum-Kleinschmidt Company

Teletype Corporation

What is Teletype?
  • Model 15 – In 1930, Sterling Morton, Howard L. Krum, and Edward E. Kleinschmidt filed an application covering the commercial form of the Model 15 page printer.[19][20] This is the Teletype machine that was used by the news wire services until the 1970s. Approximately 200,000 Model 15 teleprinters were built. The Model 15 stands out as one of a few machines that remained in production for many years, remaining in production until 1963, a total of 33 years of continuous production. The production run was stretched somewhat by World War II — the Model 28 was scheduled to replace the Model 15 in the mid-1940s, but Teletype built so many factories to produce the Model 15 during World War II, it was more economical to continue mass production of the Model 15. The Model 15, in its RO (Receive Only, no keyboard) version was the classic "news Teletype" for decades. Some radio stations still use a recording of the sound of one of these machines as background during news broadcasts.[21]

Historical impact

  • The programming language BASIC was designed to be written and edited on a low speed Teletype Model 33. The slow speed of the Teletype Model 33 influenced the user interface of minicomputer operating systems, including UNIX.
  • A Teletype Model 33 ASR provided Bill Gates' first computing experience..[22]
  • In 1971 Ray Tomlinson chose the @ symbol on his Teletype Model 33 ASR keyboard for use in network email.[23]
  • An Teletype Model 33 ASR had a cameo appearance in the 1994 Coen brothers comedy film, the Hudsucker Proxy Although the film was set in 1958, this teleprinter was not commercially available until 1963.
  • The television program Wall Street Week featured a distinctive theme composed by Donald Swartz entitled "TWX in 12 Bars", which featured percussion supplied by a Teletype Model 33 machine.[24]
  • The rhythm of the popular song Easier Said Than Done was inspired by the sound of the Teletype machines in the communications office of their post while The Essex were active-duty members of the United States Marine Corps.

See also


  1. ^ The Teletype Story. Teletype Corporation. 1957. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  2. ^ "U.S. Patent 888,335 issued in May, 1908". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Patent 862,402". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Patent 1,286,351 filed in May, 1910, and issued in December, 1918". Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  5. ^ Colin Hempstead, William E. Worthington (2005). Encyclopedia of 20th Century Technology. p. 605. 
  6. ^ "Morkum Printing Telegraph Page Printer". Retrieved =2011-08-15. 
  7. ^ Colin Hempstead, William E. Worthington (2005). Encyclopedia of 20th Century Technology. p. 605. 
  8. ^ Earle, Ralph H. (1917). The Morkrum System of Printing Telegraphy. Chicago: Armour Institute of Technology (thesis). 
  9. ^ "US Patent 1,182,179".,182,179%2526OS%3D1,182,179%2526RS%3D1,182,179&PageNum=&Rtype=&SectionNum=&idkey=NONE&Input=View+first+page. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Patent No. 1,665,594". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  11. ^ cite web |url= |title=Morkum Model 12 Type-Bar Page Printer |accessdate=201-08-28]]
  12. ^ "Teletype radio plane set, used by Navy Dept., to receive typewritten radio messages from Naval airplanes". Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  13. ^ "US Patent No. 1,448,750". Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  14. ^ "US Patent No. 1,460,357".,460,357%2526OS%3D1,460,357%2526RS%3D1,460,357&PageNum=&Rtype=&SectionNum=&idkey=NONE&Input=View+first+page. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  15. ^ "U.S. Patent No. 1,374,606". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Patent No. 1,426,768". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  17. ^ "U.S. Patent No. 1,623,809". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  18. ^ "U.S. Patent No. 1,661,012". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  19. ^ "U.S. Patent No. 1,904,164".,904,164%2526OS%3D1,904,164%2526RS%3D1,904,164&PageNum=&Rtype=&SectionNum=&idkey=NONE&Input=View+first+page. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  20. ^ Description, Typebar Page Printer (Model 15). Bulletin No. 144. Chicago: Teletype Corporation. 1931. 
  21. ^ "Teletype Model 15 Page Printer". Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  22. ^ (Manes 1994, p. 27)
  23. ^ The @-symbol, part 1 of 2, Shady Characters, July 2011
  24. ^ "TWX in 12 Bars". 

External links