1921 - 1924

The Noiseless Typewriter Co.

Middletown, Connecticut, US

 

The Noiseless portable was one of the last typewriters that brilliant, Massachusetts native, Wellington Parker Kidder (1853 - 1924), took part in creating. His legacy already included the stunning Franklin, the ever-imitated Wellington and The Noiseless standard on which some of this portable's principles were based. He had invented other, non-typewriter related items. too. And when hie Noiseless Typewriter Company merged with Remington, Kidder, being the relentless (and, as we'll learn, optimistic) tinkerer that he was, he was already working on yet another typewriter.

In 1922 Kidder remarked that there were four fundamental steps in the history of the development of typewriters: the ability to type rapidly, the ability to type visibly, the ability to type without noise and the portability of a typewriter. He was most likely declaring the merits of his own machine in a roundabout way which had then been on the market for just barely one year. The Noiseless portable was a double-shift machine with three rows of keys. It utilized a counterweight mechanism allowing the typebars to print with uniform pressure rather than uneven blows dependent on the typist's force. In essence, no matter how hard the typist struck the keyboard, the impression would always be the same. Kidder's noiseless portable typewriter was ultimately less noisy because of this innovation but not altogether noiseless. As a result of the pressure regulating system, the common rubber platen was no longer needed to dissipate the strikes of the typebars. Instead, however, now a steel platen was required to ensure even printing.

The Noiseless typewriters, both the standard and portable, weren't the result of one man but rather a collaborative. Though Kidder often received the credit, and rightfully so for his innovative vision on pressure printing, he is quick to assign a large part of the credit to associate engineers. One of those engineers was George Gould Going (1872 - 1954) who deserves a significant amount of recognition. It is, in fact, Going's name on several original patents (see patent no.1,471,152).  

The Noiseless Typewriter Company was first incorporated in January of 1909 and production began in November of that year, be it ever so slowly. The 168,000 sq/ft factory was located in Middletown, Connecticut, which was erected in 1896 by the Keating Wheel Company. Keating sold the building to the Eisenhuth Horseless Vehicle Company in 1901 which, in turn, vacated it by 1907. At first, The Noiseless Typewriter Company produced the standard models exclusively, but in 1921 the portables were introduced. In 1922 the company increased their workforce from 300 employees to 500 to accommodate an influx of orders. Of course, with success comes exposure. The Remington Typewriter Company would take notice of the innovations and successes of The Noiseless typewriters. By March of 1924 Remington merged with Noiseless to form Remington-Noiseless, a subsidiary of The Remington Typewriter Company.

George Gould Going would go on to work for Remington. He received accolades later in his life recognizing his contributions to noiseless typewriter development.

Given Kidder's optimistic and romantic notions for humanity it may have been best that he passed when he did so he could be spared what was to come. Remington merged again in 1927 with Rand-Kardex to form Remington-Rand. In 1936 and 1937 the old Noiseless Typewriter factory and its employees, some of which had worked with Kidder, were in the middle of one of the most contentious labor disputes in North American history. Riots broke out frequently with increasingly violent outcomes while the union, picketers, strikebreakers, police, the National Guard and unfortunate bystanders clashed. All the while James Rand Jr., the company president, used money and power to manipulate and intimidate the union, politicians and the general public in his favor.

In 1955 the Sperry Corporation purchased Remington-Rand. The new company, Sperry-Rand, continued to operate as a typewriter manufacturer in the old Noiseless factory until 1963. Most of this historic building still stands to this very day though it now faces Johnson Street, not North Main. The original main office building has been demolished. The facility has since been renovated and subdivided to accommodate several small, local businesses. A sign at the driveway entrance declares the name of the structure as the Remington Rand Building.

 

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The Noiseless

Portable

Wellington Parker Kidder passed away just six months after the Remington deal was finalized though he was already working on another typewriter - the elusive-to-today's-collectors Rochester. He had called typewriters "poems in mechanism" and thought all technological advancements should be used in the pursuit of peace, furthering the arts and depart from destruction "...if civilization is to endure." He was once asked what developments he thought the future held for typewriters. Kidder pondered the following answer of writing machines and telephone lines: "Will automatic writing machines someday both write and receive such messages with guarantee of accurate transcription! Will the ether waves of radios mystically touch and guide my writing machine keys, inspired from afar by friend, associate, correspondent; and may I return messages to them in this way!"