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Edison Invents the "Electric Pen": Forerunner of the Mimeograph (1875)


Thomas Edison's electric pen.

Edison's duplicating outfit with electric pen.

In 1875 Thomas Edison of Menlo Park, now Edison, New Jersey, invented the Electric Pen, the forerunner of the mimeograph. Edison received US patent 180,857 for "Autographic Printing" on August 8, 1876. The patent covered the electric pen, used for making the stencil, and the flatbed duplicating press. In 1880 Edison obtained a further patent, US 224,665: "Method of Preparing Autographic Stencils for Printing", which covered the making of stencils using a file plate, a grooved metal plate on which the stencil was placed which perforated the stencil when written on with a blunt metal stylus.