Pittsburg Visible


1897 - 1908

Pittsburg Writing Machine Company

Kittanning, Pennsylvania, US

Rumor has it that the birth of the Pittsburg began with the death of a  ̶s̶a̶l̶e̶s̶m̶a̶n̶  manager at the Daugherty typewriter factory (the Pittsburg No.10 was nearly identical to the Daugherty). Purportedly, in 1897, "through the incompetency of a manager of the company," 2,500 Daugherty typewriters were made with a defect and had to be scrapped. Since the company wasn't able to fulfill their backlog or orders it was forced to sell its patents and newly built dactory. the new company was named the Pittsburg Writing Machine Company.

Inventor James Denny Daugherty (1855 - 1939) patented the original Daugherty design in 1891 (patent nos.457,258 and 478,925) which the new company, The Pittsburg Writing Machine Company, purchased and adopted. The earliest Pittsburg No.10 models were quite similar to the latter Daugherties down to the nickeled spacebars and nickeled ribbon spools. J.D. Daugherty stayed with the new company to assist with operations.

Daugherty/Pittsburg design was the first fully visible, four-bank, frontstrike typewriter produced commercially, even before the Underwood. they were also outfitted with a removable type segment which made maintenance quite easy. It allowed for easy substitution typeface, too. The elongated open frame was replaced with a more conventional enclosed version with subsequent models, though they retained the interchangeable type segment.

One could assume that given how innovative these typewriters were, and at a fair price of $75, that would surely be hugely successful, but they were not. Their success was measurable, notable but not gangbusters and so in 1910 The Union Typewriter Company purchased the Pittsburg Company.  J.D. Daugherty stayed on until 1913.

The factory that J.D. Daugherty erected was located on the corner of South Jefferson Street and Indiana Ave. in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. Today the factory is gone. The section of South Jefferson Street that the factory occupied is still there but it has been stripped of its name. It's now a sad, nameless road that goes nowhere.

So, you may ask, "Where's the "h" at the end of Pittsburg?" Well, in 1891 The United States Board on Geographic Names attempted to force all US cities with the -burgh suffix to adopt the German h-less version. Most of Pittsburgh's institutions, including the local gazette, stock exchange and university, protested by not complying. Even though the city's name on the original town charter was written without the h, the city's denizens preferred the spelling they've gotten so familiar with. The Board's decision was reversed in 1911 and the city was able to retain its beloved h.

Have an image of the original Daugherty/Pittsburg factory you could share? Please email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com