A hundred years ago November 12, 1919. Archives

From the Archives (November 12, 1919): Lightning Letter Sortes.

The post-office sorting machine is the latest ingenious invention adopted by the postal authorities in the United States. Seated in front of large packet of letters the post office clerk only has to press a button and the letters sort themselves! Let us suppose the apparatus is being used over here. The operator has a pile of letters in front of him for London, Liverpool, Manchester, Dublin, etc. He works on a sort of keyboard, on each key of which the name of a town is printed. Now, suppose the first letter is for Liverpool. He presses the key with that name on it, and the letter is seized by a little pincer, separated, lifted, and deposited in a little compartment reserved for all the Liverpool letters. All this with lighting rapidity. The operators hands works as quickly on the post-office sorting machine as those of an experienced clerk would on a typewriter. Up to now these machines have had only ninety keys; that is to say, they can only sort letters for ninety towns at a time. The constructors are however, about to perfect a model containing 296 keys. They are also confident of being able in the near future to apply this method of sorting to parcels. Will our G.P.O. kindly note?

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