Wellington Parker Kidder was born in Maine and studied in Boston. At various points during his professional life he manufactured out of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as aboard. He first patented components related to the Wellington in 1892 (patent nos.471,794 and 471,795). Its primary innovation was its unique thrust-action typebar arrangement, which meant that rather than striking a platen from underneath (upstrike), from the top (dowstrike) or otherwise, the typebars of a Wellington thrust straight forward towards the platen. This innovation and ensuing typewriter was one of Kidder's first ventures into the industry he helped shape. It proved to be quite marketable.
1892 - 1924
The Williams Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Plattsburgh, New York, US
The name, Wellington Parker Kidder (1853 - 1924), is almost as synonymous with typewriters as that of Christopher Latham Sholes (almost). Kidder's name is associated with dozens of typewriters, be it directly and indirectly. He was responsible for the Franklin typewriter and the ever elusive Rochester typewriter. He also developed The Noiseless typewriter that was later purchased by Remington, which in turn applied Kidder's noise reducing design to their own typewriters for decades to come. Then there were the countless clones like the early Adlers, Blick Universal and Melotyp.
For about thirty years, between 1892 and 1924, the design of the Wellington did not change drastically. However, there were two basic models produced, Nos.1 & 2. The easiest way to distinguish the two is by their keytops. No.1s had square keytops while those of the No.2's were round. Both models had straight, three-row keyboards with a double-shift mechanism. Inking was delivered via an extra-wide ribbon. Wellingtons were produced by the Williams Manufacturing Company of Plattsburgh, New York. They were well built but the passage of time has exposed their metallurgy issues since they are often with lots of rust.
Some Wellingtons were sold through The Wanamaker Department store of Pennsylvania, which required them rebranded as the Wanamaker-Wellington. Some others, still, were rebranded as the Davis. That, however, was not the real legacy of this design. It's what happened to Kidder's design in foreign markets, especially in Europe, that solidified his place in history. In Canada and the United Kingdom it was rebranded and sold as the Empire. In Germany, bicycle maker Adler wanted to enter the typewriter industry, so it adopted the Wellington design, which proved to be extremely successful. Archo, another German company, also adopted the design. Adler also sold its typewriters rebranded as the Protos. In the Czhech Republic they were sold as the Orell. The Blick Universal, Melotyp, Nonotyp, Rochester, Ruff, Pocket, Adlerette, Garbell and seemingly countless other typewriters were all based on the Wellington's overall design or, in the least, just its typebar arrangement. Kidder's Wellington is easily one of the most influential typewriter designs of all time.