Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lee Burridge-Inventor of the Typewriter

Lee Burridge was an inventive genius and manufacturer, but still maybe the least known of typewriter inventors. He was born in Paris, France on September 22, 1861, the son of Levi Spear, a noted dentist, and Emma Frances (Ogden) Burridge.
After completing his education at Tunbridge Wells, England, Lee came to New York City in 1878. He quickly directed his attention to making mechanical toys and in 1890 established the Sun Manufacturing Co. to exploit these tin novelties. Among his toys were a walking man and a crawling doll - true marvels of his ingenuity. In 1883 the American Institute granted him award of merit.  He obtained over 60 patents and it is reported that he constructed nearly 700 different models. Burridge directed much of his efforts at simplifying the parts and movements of the typewriter, a technological novelty in those days.  In between Toys, Index machines and Keyboard machines Lee found time to create a stapler which he patented in 1897.
Lee and his brother Frank incorporated the company in 1901. At around this same time the Sun keyboard machine was born. Its major claim to fame was the ink reservoir, which was activated each time a key would contact it on its way to the paper. Sun keyboard machines were fairly successful and quite a few were made. Burridge never married, but did manage to leave behind at least three small Suns, the index model and the two keyboard models.
(This article includes original research done by Ray Thomas for the Typex newsletter -Aug. 1998)