May 9, 2022
The History of Writing Machines

There have been countless updates and modifications to them over the years. This photo depicts the first shorthand machine invented by Miles Bartholomew.

“Miles Bartholomew invented the first successful shorthand machine in 1877. Improvements were later made to the machine and patents were obtained for it in 1879 and 1884. It was manufactured by Bartholomew’s company, the United States Stenograph Corporation of East St. Louis, Illinois, and was used as late as 1937 by official reporters. The ten keys could be depressed one at a time (a letter at a stroke) to create a series of dots and dashes, much like Morse code.

“A native of Belleville, Illinois, Bartholomew was an official court reporter and is considered the “Father of the Stenograph.” The Bartholomew Stenograph was the first machine to attain a degree of success in the reporting field. Many machines were manufactured and some schools taught its operation. The venture was not a financial success, however, but Bartholomew remained supportive of machine shorthand. In 1883, he wrote, “The old prejudices against machine stenography are giving way to confidence in, and acknowledgement of, its superiority over the pen, and the tide of public favor is raising rapidly in the front.”